BC Poised to Join Saskatchewan and Alberta in Giving Employees Paid COVID-19 Vaccination Leave
Mandatory paid vaccination leave is spreading like wildfire across Canada.
When the pandemic struck last year, most jurisdictions responded by giving employees unpaid leave to deal with COVID (or in some provinces, any infectious illness prompting a public health emergency). Now, with cases spiking and vaccination efforts lagging, a new form of leave has come into vogue: paid leave so that employees can get the COVID vaccine without sacrificing wages or vacation days. With things moving so fast, we thought we’d offer a review of the current situation.
Around the Provinces
As of April 23:
- Saskatchewan and Alberta are the only provinces that have adopted paid vaccination leave;
- BC has adopted unpaid leave but is poised to pass new legislation providing paid leave;
- Ontario is providing paid vaccination leave but only for government workers, having voted down 2 bills that would extend leave to the private sector;
- Governments in all other parts of the country are under enormous pressure to adopt leave, especially in Manitoba which is now the only province in western Canada without some form of vaccination leave; and
- Some employers in provinces where it’s not legally required are providing their employees paid vaccination leave
How Paid Vaccination Leave Works
Where paid vaccination has been or, in the case of B.C., is likely to be granted, the ground rules are pretty much the same:
- It’s up to a maximum of 3 hours;
- It covers 2 vaccinations—in other words, employees get 3 hours for the first vaccine and another 3 hours for the second;
- Unlike other forms of mandatory leave, paid vaccination leave applies to all employees regardless of how long they’ve been employed;
- Employees are supposed to provide employers as much advance notice as they can; and
- Employers aren’t allowed to discipline or in any way retaliate against employees for taking their entitled leave.