COVID sick leave: a possible burden for SMEs, believes CFIB

Many unions are calling on the Quebec government to create a bank of 10-day COVID-19 sick leave for people who cannot telework. However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) calls for caution, since such a measure could become an additional burden for SME owners who are struggling to survive.

• Read also: COVID-19: unions call for a 10-day leave bank

With the labor shortage, the confidence level of the management of SMEs in Quebec has never been so low, according to the CFIB’s November Business Barometer. Thus, adding sick leave to the costs of these employers generated additional costs at a time when they were already weakened.

“We must take into account the fragile context of SMEs, which is reflected in their very low level of confidence. The two basic reasons for their pessimism are labor shortages and rising costs. The implementation of the request to create a 10-day sick leave bank would add even more pressure on these two issues. This is why we urge caution,” said CFIB vice-president for Quebec, François Vincent.

While nearly half of Quebec businesses have fewer than five employees, many owners have to work overtime themselves to counter the labor shortage. This is why the absence of a single employee can have significant repercussions on the activities of the company.

According to a recent CFIB survey, 90% of SMEs believe it is possible to make flexible work arrangements without having to comply with a “binding law”.

For its part, the CFIB believes that the government should offer full compensation to companies if it wishes to implement this union demand.

“The CFIB will promote the perspective of SMEs to the various ministries concerned, in particular to the Minister of Labour. A regulatory impact analysis must be carried out before any decision is taken. We call on the government of Quebec to consult the owners of SMEs and, above all, not to impose additional costs on them,” added Mr. Vincent.


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