Employment Law

Paid sick days for federally regulated employees

In Canada, the ability for employees to take time off when they’re unwell is not only a matter of personal well-being but also a public health concern.

Federally regulated employees in Canada have specific rights and entitlements when it comes to paid sick days.

In this resource, we’ll explore what paid sick days are, how many days employees get, how to access them, and the rights surrounding this leave.

List of federally regulated companies in Canada

What are paid sick days?

Paid sick days, or medical leave with pay, are designated paid days off from work that federally regulated employees can use when they are ill, injured, donating an organ or tissue, or attending a medical appointment.

These days are intended to ensure that employees don’t face financial hardship when they are unable to work due to illness or health-related reasons.

Paid sick leave is a job-protected leave under Part III of the Canada Labour Code (CLC). It is a minimum standard set by the federal government. The new paid sick leave program started on Dec. 1, 2022.

Employers can choose to provide their own sick leave benefit to employees, but it must meet or exceed these minimum CLC standards.

If you are a provincially regulated employee, you should look to the relevant provincial employment standards legislation to know your rights to paid sick days and paid medical leave.

For instance, Ontario previously offered three paid sick days for COVID-related matters and B.C. provides five paid sick days to full and part-time employees.

How many paid sick days do federally regulated employees get?

Federally regulated private sector employees get up to 10 paid sick days per year.

Starting from Dec. 31, 2022, employees with at least 30 days of continuous employment had access to three days of paid sick leave.

On Feb. 1, 2023, they gained an additional day, and then earned one more sick day every month, up to a total of 10 days per year.

Who can use these paid sick days?

Employees working for a federally regulated company anywhere in Canada, which includes the following sectors:

  • Air transportation (airlines, airports, aerodromes, aircraft operations)
  • Banks (including authorized foreign banks)
  • Grain elevators, feed and seed mills, feed warehouses and grain-seed cleaning plants
  • First Nations band councils and Indigenous self-governments
  • Most federal Crown corporations
  • Port services, marine shipping, ferries, tunnels, canals, bridges and pipelines (oil and gas) that cross international or provincial borders
  • Postal and courier services
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Railways that cross provincial or international borders and some short-line railways
  • Road transportation services (trucks, buses) that cross provincial or international borders
  • Telecommunications (telephone, Internet, telegraph, cable systems)
  • Uranium mining and processing, and atomic energy
  • Any business that is essential to the operation of one of the above industries

You don’t have to be a full-time or permanent employee to receive paid sick days. Part-time, seasonal, temporary, casual, and contract workers are also eligible.

These laws apply to companies of all sizes, including small businesses.

What if I work irregular hours?

Federally regulated employees on paid sick leave who aren’t paid on the basis of time (i.e. salespeople compensated by commission) will be entitled to their regular rate of wages.

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What can I use these paid sick days for?

Federally regulated workers can access up to 10 paid sick days each year for one of the following reasons:

  • Personal illness or injury
  • Quarantine or self-isolation
  • Medical appointments during work hours
  • Donating an organ or tissue

NOTE: These paid sick days are for your own health only and can’t be used to care for sick family members. Workers can access additional personal emergency leave that provides five days to use for family care.

Do I need a doctor’s note to take a paid sick day?

You don’t require a doctor’s note for a paid sick day under the CLC, but you should inform your employer in writing as soon as possible.

If you take five or more consecutive paid sick days, your employer can ask for a doctor’s note. They must ask for it in writing within 15 days after your return to work.

Doctor’s notes in Ontario
B.C. employees and sick notes
Alberta employers and sick notes

Can I carry over any used paid sick days?

Yes, you have the option to carry over any unused paid sick days to the following calendar year.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that you can only earn and use a maximum of 10 days per year.

If you carry over paid leave from one year to the next, the total number of days you can earn in the upcoming year will be reduced by one for each day carried over, ensuring that the maximum remains at 10.


Let’s say you work for a company that follows the calendar year for paid sick days.

In 2023, you’re entitled to a maximum of 10 paid sick days. However, during that year, you only used five of those days for medical leave.

Now, in 2024, you have the option to carry over the unused five days from 2023. This means that for 2024, you can still earn up to 10 paid sick days.

However, since you carried over five days, you start the year with those five days already available for use in 2024.

So, in 2024, you have a total of 10 paid sick days available — including the five carried-over days from the previous year.

What if my employment contract already provides for paid sick days?

If you are a federally regulated employee, and your employment contract already specifies that you are entitled to more than 10 days of paid sick leave, then those benefits will continue to apply.

Paid leave under the CLC only sets a minimum standard that all employers in federally regulated industries must comply with.

Can I be fired for taking paid sick days?

No. In Canada, it’s illegal for your employer to punish or fire you for using your paid sick days.

While an employer can fire a federally regulated employee for many reasons through a termination without cause (with a full severance package for as much as 24 months’ pay), they can’t punish someone or terminate their employment for taking time off work through a job-protected leave.

An employer could face human rights damages as a result. A federally regulated employee who loses their job in this manner is also entitled to full severance pay through a wrongful dismissal claim.

How to calculate severance pay
Severance pay in a recession
Provincially regulated severance packages

How an employment lawyer can help

If you employer punishes you or lets you go because of your disability, or the fact that you took paid time off work, contact the employment lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

Do so before accepting any severance offer. signing your termination papers prematurely may cause you to forfeit essential rights, including proper severance pay.

At Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, our skilled team of employment lawyers consistently deliver proven results for countless clients across Ontario. We work diligently to protect your rights and provide necessary guidance through employment-related issues.

If you are a non-unionized employee in Ontario, Alberta, or B.C. who has been punished by your employer or lost your job, contact us or call 1-855-821-5900 to get the advice you need, and the compensation you deserve.

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