How an offer of paid sick leave to employees can pay off for companies

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With pleas to offer paid sick leave for essential workers increasingly vocal in several parts of the country, some companies that are already doing so say it’s not just good for protecting health – it’s good for books.

“The result is that it really paid off,” said Nima Fotovat, president of Ontario-based Riverside Natural Foods, which makes healthy snacks, including the MadeGood brand.

The company, located in Vaughan north of Toronto, has remained open throughout the pandemic, although there have been some cases of COVID-19. It provides paid sick leave of up to 14 days to its 500 employees, most of whom work in production, packaging and shipping for an hourly wage.

Doctors and nurses, Public health officialsAnd the WillfulsAnd the Unions Economists And the Business organizations They all expressed support for paid sick leave to make sure workers stay home if they are sick, and to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Yukon was created Driven Sick leave program To fight the epidemic for more than a year, the idea is Under consideration in British Columbia.

This week – under pressure to control workplace transmission in COVID-19 hotspots in and around Toronto – Ontario announced it will fund A paid temporary leave program to cover three sick days.

Also conservative I offered to double Canada’s CRSB subsidy $ 500 to $ 1000 per week.

The CRSB covers those who do not have paid sickness benefits from work, But it has been criticized for being difficult to access and inadequate.

2020 study by the University of British Columbia It found that 58 percent of Canadian workers reported not taking sick leave from their employer.

Nearly 75 percent of workers earning less than $ 25,000 do not take paid sick leave.

Progressive politics expanded to confront the pandemic

Riverside Natural Foods already had a paid sick leave program that offered workers four days off a year prior to the pandemic.

The company is prof Certified B Corporation, Which means it has been audited by a nonprofit that has determined it cares about its workers, clients, community and environment.

Fotovat said the company has extended its sick leave during COVID-19 to ensure workers are not afraid to speak up if they develop symptoms or are exposed to someone with the virus.

He said, “We do not want the thought of losing wages to be a deterrent to informing us of any relevant information about COVID.”

Amid a growing push for paid sick leave across Canada, some companies are stepping up on their own and finding workers who pay to stay home in the event of a pandemic can prove beneficial to businesses. 2:05

Although some workers have contracted the virus in the community, an outbreak has been prevented on the production line through a combination of rapid tests, safety measures and sick leave that allow them to stay at home, he said.

Not only did this policy help protect his workers, Fotovat says, it helped protect revenue by avoiding any costly shutdowns.

“We didn’t miss customer orders,” he said. “We have been able to keep going throughout the entire epidemic.”

Paid sick leave can create loyalty

About a 30-minute drive east of Riverside, at Neal Brothers Foods in Richmond Hill, Ontario, freight specialist and forklift operator Alberto Tamayo is back at work after taking a two-week vacation due to a positive COVID-19 test result.

Alberto Tamayo is a forklift operator at Neal Brothers Foods in Richmond Hill, Ont. He recently returned to work after taking a two-week paid vacation to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui / CBC News)

Just two days after receiving his first AstraZeneca vaccine, Tamayo learned that he had been exposed to the virus by a friend.

Satisfied though, Tamayo went to the test, then called his manager at Neal Brothers, a company that specializes in chips and salsa.

He said the paid sick leave policy by the Neill brothers made him feel safe to do so, and to contemplate the safety of his co-workers.

“They were also affected by me, so I have to isolate myself,” he said.

Co-founder Chris Neal says the company changed its paid sick leave policy to five days from two at the start of the pandemic.

But he says the practices of Neil Brothers go beyond their politics.

Citing previous examples where they provided extended sick leave to workers after serious surgery and treatment for cancer and other illnesses, Neill said they would cover whatever is required for any of their 60 employees to self-isolate or recover from COVID-19.

Chris Neal of Neil Brothers Foods says providing paid sick leave is the right thing to do, but it’s also practical because program costs are partially offset by reduced employee turnover and less spending on training for new employees. (Evan Mitsui / CBC News)

“The men who pick our orders every day are just as important as the people who sell there or just as important as the people who collect the money,” Neill said.

While he thinks providing paid sick leave is the right thing to do, Neill said it’s workable, too.

The costs of sick leave are partially offset by reduced spending on training for new employees.

“We have very little of our sales here and there are savings for that,” he said.

Tamayo wants to stay at the Neal Brothers, in part because he believes his superiors have his back.

He said, “I trust them and they trust us.”

New Epidemic Sick Leave also in Indigo

It’s not an essential place to work but Indigo Books & Music Inc. , Created a paid sick leave policy for the pandemic.

Although Indigo is not an essential place to work, it gives all employees who test positive for the Coronavirus a paid leave of isolation for 14 days. (Ryan Remewers / The Canadian Press)

The publicly traded company – which owns more than 180 stores across Canada and employs 6,000 people – says it provides paid leave for any employee, including seasonal and part-time workers, pending COVID-19 test results, or self-isolation due to potential exposure. For a period of up to 14 days.

It also says it will grant paid leave to workers infected with the virus.

The move to paid sick leave “was driven by listening to our teams,” said Madeleine Lauenberg Frick, Indigo corporate communications director, in an email response to CBC’s questions.

Löwenborg-Frick said the company doesn’t want to put anyone in the position of coming to work if they feel ill, and that last year it created a permanent paid sick leave program for part-time workers, a benefit previously only granted to staff.

So far, the company has not had any cases of COVID-19 transmission in distribution centers, retail locations, or the head office.

Rick Robertson, professor emeritus of management accounting and lecturer at Ivey Business School at Western University, said that while sick leave programs can be misused, in the long run they are good for businesses.

He also says in the event of a pandemic, the financial condition of sick leave is particularly strong.

“The sooner we reduce the negative impact of COVID, I wouldn’t say every company benefits, but the vast majority of companies will actually benefit.”

Make Sick Leave Paid Act

Iglica Ivanova, chief economist at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, studies issues such as poverty and precarious work.

it was After the issue of paid sick leave closely He is happy to see companies introduce it, especially to low-wage workers in key sectors.

Iglica Ivanova is Senior Economist at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). She says standard labor laws should be used to get companies to offer paid sick leave, just as they should pay a minimum wage and provide leave. (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives)

However, Ivanova says there aren’t enough companies to do this.

She believes that every county and territory should use standard labor laws to get companies to offer paid sick leave “the same way we set minimum wages and make leave required.”

Although she says the CRSB program in Ottawa is ineffective in raising money for job workers due to COVID-19, Ivanova says the government is obligated to help fund paid sick leave for companies that cannot afford it.

She says it’s unfair to ask low-paid workers, Many of them are women and racist groups, To stay at home without pay in order to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

“We’re talking about the stock issue here,” she said. “I just think it’s not true.”

With files from Diane Buckner And Mark Pepe.

Frontline healthcare workers in Ontario rallied for paid sick days and better protection for essential workers as intensive care units reached record levels. This comes amid calls for more vaccines to be sent to hotspots as some makeshift clinics face shortages. 2:03

More to track …
Bulletin Observer Health

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