Sick day limits are legal

Statutory entitlements and individual accommodation needs must be considered when placing a cap on sick days
By Brian Johnston
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Statistics Canada recently released survey results showing a significant rise in absences from work due to personal reasons (including illness or disability). In 1997, full time employees missed 7.3 days of work. In 2005, that number had grown to 9.5 days. Given the impact on the workplace of reduced productivity and worker replacement costs plus the cost of benefits provided to absent employees, it is no wonder employers want to limit sick days.

However, some sick time is statutorily permitted. Employment standards legislation in Canada allows anywhere between three and 12 days unpaid leave per year for illness. Most employers recognize that from time to time employees may be absent from work from illness and many have policies allowing for paid leave to be earned and “capped.” When paid sick leave expires, employees may receive some form of short- or long-term disability coverage, employment insurance or an unpaid leave.