New COVID-19 Vaccination Leave and other updates to the Employment Standards Regulation
To encourage employees to get immunized, the BC government has introduced a broad right to job-protected time off work for vaccination.
The “Vaccination Leave” is available to employees who require time off work to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or to assist a dependant who is receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no requirement that employees demonstrate they can only receive vaccination during working hours. The definition of “dependant” was also broadened to include family members other than children or dependent adults. The leave would apply to both first and second shots. Incredibly, and in contrast to other leaves for short absences such as voting leave or vaccination leaves in other provinces, the amendments do not prescribe a maximum permitted period of absence to obtain vaccination. Nonetheless, we believe employers can limit vaccination leaves to a reasonable amount of time and require proof of vaccination.
The government is still considering whether to mandate that employers pay for the time off. For now, the leave is unpaid.
Additionally the provincial government has also extended the existing right to take COVID-19 Leave to employees who, in the opinion of a medical professional, are more susceptible to COVID-19 because of an underlying condition, treatment they are undergoing or other illness.
Multi-provincial employers should be aware that other provinces have introduced or are planning to introduce vaccination leaves.
We would be happy to discuss any questions you may have about these new leaves.
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