skip to Main Content
A Look At Sick Leave Policies In Canada And The US

A Look at Sick Leave Policies in Canada and the US

This year more than any other, the topic of sick leave has become very popular and is continuing to gain attention. I have recently brought up this subject in my social media igniting a lot of debate, and want to continue the discussion with a look into the current policies across Canada and the US.

28% of US States and 15% of Canadian Provinces have paid sick leave for most employers, while federally only Canada mandates sick pay for specific industries. Airlines, ports, railways, pipelines and banks, along with government agencies (which make up 6% of all employees) now have to provide up to 10 sick days worth up to 4% of an employee’s annual salary after 30 days of employment. 

The remaining 94% of Canadian employees must rely on provincial regulations, though some employers may choose to provide paid sick days even if they are not federally or provincially legally required to. BC and Quebec are currently the only provinces mandating paid sick leave. 

In BC, after 90 consecutive days with an employer, employees are entitled to 5 days paid sick leave. While Quebec mandates 2 paid sick days per year for employees who have been with their employer for 3 months; these paid leave days are grouped with other potential absences, including family leave.

As for the other provinces, here are the maximum unpaid sick days of yearly entitlement after the minimum employment requirements are met:

Alberta: 5 days
Saskatchewan: 0 days
Manitoba: 3 days
Ontario: 3 days
New Brunswick: 5 days
Nova Scotia: 3 days
Prince Edward Island: 3 days.
Newfoundland and Labrador: 7 days
Yukon: 12 days
Northwest Territories: 5 days
Nunavut:  5 days


In the US, there are no federal requirements for paid sick leave after the expiry of the 2020 10 day federal sick leave policy. The Family and Medical Leave Act does provide eligible employees with unpaid leave, in certain instances, however, just 56% of the workforce meets the criteria for this coverage. 

There are currently 14 states with paid sick day laws, as well as 19 cities and 3 counties. Although there are many exceptions based on the size of business and length of employment, here are the maximum days of yearly entitlement:

District of Columbia (DC): 7 days
Connecticut: 5 days
California: 3 days
Massachusetts: 5 days
Oregon: 5 days
Vermont: 5 days
Arizona: 5 days
Washington: 5 days
Rhode Island: 5 days
Maryland: 8 days
New Jersey: 5 days
New York: 5 days
New Mexico: 8 days
Colorado: 6 days

Like it or not, everybody gets sick from time to time, and with mandated leave in place for less than 25% of jurisdictions, that makes paid sick leave a great attraction mechanism when you’re looking to fill a role. If you are in a place where paid sick leave is mandated or a place where it isn’t but the employer offers sick leave, then recruiters and organizations should consider it another selling feature. Not just to the candidate, but also to their spouse, family members, or anyone else who would need to relocate with them. Paid sick leave, low sales taxes, good schools, public transportation–these things are all perks that help smooth the transition between jobs for candidates and could even be a deciding factor when it comes to signing an offer letter. Or do you disagree?

Canadian Resources:

US Resources: 

Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Vancouver Island. We have a wide variety of services to help you find the best employees. See how we can help on our Recruiting Solutions page.