With calls for paid sick days for critical staff getting stronger in some parts of the world, some businesses that already do so argue it’s not only good for their employees’ welfare but also good for their bottom line.
“As a result, it has really paid off for us,” said Nima Fotovat, president of Riverside Natural Foods in Ontario, which makes healthy snack foods under the MadeGood name.
Despite having some COVID-19 cases, the business, which is located in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, has remained open throughout the pandemic. It offers up to 14 days of paid sick leave to its 500 employees, the majority of whom are hourly workers in manufacturing, packaging, and shipping.
Doctors and nurses, public health leaders, mayors, labor unions, economists, and business groups have all expressed support for paid sick leave to ensure that employees stay home while they are sick and to help minimize COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
To combat the pandemic, Yukon developed a paid sick leave program more than a year ago, and the concept is being considered in B.C.
Under pressure to monitor workplace transmission in COVID-19 hotspots in and around Toronto, Ontario declared this week that it would finance a three-day paid sick leave program.
The province also proposed doubling the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from $500 to $1000 a week for Ottawa residents.
The CRSB protects those who do not have paid sick leave from work, but it has been criticized for being difficult to use and inadequate. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia in 2020, 58% of Canadian employees do not receive sick leave from their employers.
Nearly 75% of employees earning less than $25,000 do not have access to paid sick time. In the event of a pandemic, progressive policies will be strengthened.
Prior to the pandemic, Riverside Natural Foods had a paid sick leave scheme that gave employees four days off every year.
The business is a Certified B Corporation, which means it has been audited by a nonprofit organization and found to be committed to its employees, clients, society, and environment.
During COVID-19, the organization increased sick leave to ensure that employees would not be afraid to speak up if they had symptoms or were introduced to anyone infected with the virus, according to Fotovat.