The Key Components to Setting Up Payroll: Part 5.8 – Sick Days

6 mins read

This article is written to provide you with a summary of what paid sick days are and the various ways that a company can administer them.

Canadian employers by law are not required to pay their employees sick pay, however the Saskatchewan Employment Act provides protection against discriminatory action to employees who are absent from work due to their own or a family member’s illness or injury.

Per Saskatchewan Employment Standards, Discrimination Action is defined as any action taken by the employer that affects an individual’s employment such as termination, layoff, discipline, changes to work schedule, intimidation, reduction in regular pay rate or salary, loss of opportunity for promotion, demotion and transfer.

Some important regulations set forth by the employment standards regarding an employee missing work due to an illness or injury:

    • Employers may not discharge or discipline employees due to an illness or injury absence from work:

      • If the absence does not exceed 12 days in a calendar year for an illness or injury that is not serious
      • If the employee is injured and receiving benefits under The Workers’ Compensation Act, and the absence does not exceed 26 weeks in a period of 52 weeks
    • The employer may require a medical note to verify the absence
    • If the employee’s absence due to the illness or injury is the result of a public health emergency, the employee doesn’t require 13 weeks of employment or needs to provide a medical note
    • Vacation pay can be used as sick leave.

Paid Sick Days

In order to remain competitive in the market, many businesses are providing only their permanent employees with paid sick days since they are deemed as eligible to participate and to be covered under the company’s insured group benefits programs, which may also apply to permanent part-time employees working equal to or over 24 hours a week.

Since employment standards does not require businesses to provide paid sick days to employees, it is considered an added benefit to an employee’s Total Rewards (TR) package.

If you are interested in adding this benefit to your employee’s TR package, it is up to your discretion how many days are provided and how the guideline will be administered in your business. Just like any other benefit or guideline for your business, when developing a paid Sick Day Guideline, make certain there is equity amongst all levels of the organization. This can be easily accomplished by ensuring:

    • All eligible employees receive the same number of paid sick days annually
    • The guideline regulations apply to all eligible employees
    • There are no exceptions to disciplinary actions with violations to the guideline
    • The guideline regulations do not segregate certain groups

Since there is no regulated number of paid sick days an employer is required to give, it would be worth mentioning that most businesses provide up to 5 paid sick days annually and, though it is uncommon, some even provide up to 12.

Since employers are allowed to deviate from the minimum set forth by Employment Standards, it is crucial that any adjustments do not result in a reduction of any of the employees’ rights and meets or exceeds the minimum standard.

Now that you understand Saskatchewan’s Employment Standards legislation and have been introduced to paid sick days, it is time to develop a Sick Day Guideline for your company. The main purpose of having one implemented in your company is to provide clarification to the employees how it is handled and administered, including company expectations.

Below this article, there is a downloadable Sick Leave Guideline template and example for you to use. Please keep in mind that this template and example uses general information and how your guideline is administered and handled is up to your discretion.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series when we discuss Personal Days. If you would like further support about paid sick days best practices, please let a BIG representative know!

Download Key Components to Setting Up Payroll Part 5.8 – Sick Leave Guide & Template (zip).

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Visit our Resource Library for all available downloads.

If you require assistance with any of the guides, forms or templates, please contact a BIG representative.

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