The Ontario government’s plans to introduce new workplace reform law could have a significant impact on how employees take sick days by allowing them to take up to 10 sick days per year without having to provide a note from a doctor.
Sick Days are a Privilege Today
Staying home sick isn’t always easy. Many people are obligated to provide their employers with doctor’s notes confirming they’re sick. That could change, though.
The Toronto Star reports that updates to Ontario’s employment laws could mean employers will be banned from asking to see doctor’s notes from employees who take fewer than 10 sick days per year.
Not only will this change have an impact on the rights of employees to take sick leave, it should also have a significant impact on the health industry by requiring fewer appointments from people looking for doctor’s notes, and may reduce germs being spread around the workplace.
Do These Changes Far Enough?
Advocates for health providers argue these recommendations do not go far enough, since they do not mean people will receive paid sick days. Ontario’s current employment laws do not ensure employees have the right to take paid sick days.
The CBC recently reported up to three million workers in Ontario receive no paid sick days at all. One such person was DeJanai Love, a Toronto fitness instructor who suffered a concussion but returned to work because her employer offered no paid sick leave. Such situations force employees to choose between working when they are sick or staying home and not earning the income needed to pay rent or buy groceries. To add to this financial impact, some people must pay for doctor’s notes since visits to obtain them are not covered under the province’s health insurance.
Additional Changes Possible
Other possible changes stemming from the review of the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act include a minimum wage hike to $15/hour by 2019. The province’s minimum wage currently sits at $11.40/hour.
The government is also considering ensuring workers are allowed 10 personal emergency leave days in a year, two of which must be paid. Emergency leave days will give people the opportunity to stay home from work to care for sick family members or to leave a situation where there is domestic violence.
Ontario workers could also see an increase in vacation time. The government is looking at increasing vacation to three weeks after five years of employment. The current legislation allows for just two. Part time employees may also be guaranteed the same wage as their full-time counterparts.
Contact the offices of Peter McSherry if you have any questions about your rights as an employee, including overtime pay entitlement, wrongful dismissal, or your rights as an independent contractor vs. an employee. Peter McSherry has been representing people in employment matters for 20 years and can ensure your case is handled properly and that you have all the information you need to make the best decisions for your and your career. Call us at 519-821-5465 or email us if you need to talk.