VICTORIA -- One of British Columbia's largest labour unions is asking every employer in the province to stop requiring employees to provide a doctor's note before taking sick leave in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) says B.C. employers must lower barriers for staff to take sick leave in an effort to fight the spread of the virus.

“We all must take appropriate steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and B.C. workers need to do so without barriers or additional risk of infecting others,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in a statement Tuesday.

“Our provincial government has made the responsible decision to waive their employees’ need for doctor’s notes for COVID-19-related illness, and our union urges all employers in B.C. follow suit.”

On Friday, the province stopped requiring its employees to provide a note to receive paid sick leave for suspected coronavirus-related illnesses.

“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,” said Smith.

“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.”

The BCGEU president lauded the province's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and said its incumbent on all employers to protect employees and the broader public by ensuring sick leave is available to staff.