COVID-19 Vaccinations and Time Off
As the province acts to move past the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more readily available. With an increasing number of individuals scheduling immunization appointments, it is important to understand the policies surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and time off. As experts in employment law, the employment lawyers at Linley Welwood have compiled some crucial information on this topic. Understanding the laws and policies associated with COVID-19 vaccinations is important for ensuring compliance with relevant employment standards.
Are Employers Required to Provide Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations?
Without paid time off, full-time employees may find it difficult to book an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccinations. Recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act provide workers with up to three hours of paid leave to receive each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. If an employee takes this leave, their employer must pay them at a rate equal to their average hourly wage for each hour of leave taken, up to three hours. This hourly rate must be equal to or higher than minimum wage. An employer can ask employees to provide proof of their vaccination appointment, but an employer cannot require a doctor’s note or proof that an employee has received a vaccine.
The BC Immunization Plan
These amendments are now in effect, retroactive to April 19, 2021. This leave is designed to make it easier for residents of British Columbia to get their vaccines even if they are working on a full-time basis or have a busy work schedule. The BC Immunization Plan also includes flexible clinic hours and online registration services to book vaccine appointments, further simplifying and expediting the process. This amendment is in effect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in place until it is repealed.
Unpaid COVID-19 Leave
An individual can take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they are unable to work for any of the following reasons:
- They are assisting a dependant who is receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are following the instructions of a medical health officer or the advice of a doctor.
- Their employer has directed them not to work due to their concern about the risk of exposure to other employees.
- They need to provide care for an eligible person for a reason related to COVID-19 including school or daycare closures.
To learn more about paid leave, COVID-19 policies, and other areas of employment law, reach out to the team at Linley Welwood. Our professionals can be reached at 604-850-6640 and are ready to assist you.