In wake of ongoing concerns of COVID-19 in B.C., a government employees union is calling on employers across the province to stop requiring doctor’s notes in order to limit the virus from spreading further.
“We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and the message from public health experts is clear — one critically important thing we all need to do is stay home if we feel sick,” president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union said in a statement Tuesday.
“Right now many employers require workers to produce a doctor’s note to access their sick leave, which creates a needless administrative hurdle for workers, an additional strain on our health care system, and an increased risk of spreading the infection.”
On Friday, the province announced it would drop required doctor’s notes so government employees can access their sick leave — a move Smith called “a seemingly small decision that would have an enormous impact as we navigate this public health crisis.”
One person in B.C. has died from the virus, a man in his 80s who was a resident of a seniors home in Lynn Valley, and 31 other patients have been placed in quarantine or self isolation since early February. Four of those people have since been released.
Health officials have urged anyone who feels ill or shows flu or cold-like symptoms to simply stay home in order to minimize the risk of others becoming infected. If symptoms worsen, people should call HealthLink BC, by dialing 811, instead of visiting their doctor’s office or a hospital.
Symptoms of the novel coronavirus can range from mild to severe and include coughing, a fever and shortness of breath.
Paid sick leave is not currently covered by B.C.’s Employment Standards Act, which means that part-time and casual workers are often left being forced to go unpaid if they cannot work. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has encouraged businesses to be flexible and allow employees to work from home, as well as host “virtual gatherings” in stead of in-person meetings.
The federal government is expected to announce some kind of support for businesses affected by the novel coronavirus later this week.