You may recall that in March 2020, the BC Government amended the Employment Standards Act to allow employees to take job-protected COVID-19 related leave. Recently, the BC Government made another amendment to the Employment Standards Act, to allow employees to take up to three hours off work, with pay, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
This recent amendment to the law means that if an employee needs to take time off work to attend an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccination, they will not lose pay. This law takes effect retroactively on 19 April 2021.
BC’s Minister of Labour announced that, “This paid leave will ensure that no one will have to choose between losing pay and getting their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
What does the process look like?
A full-time or part-time employee, regardless of their length of service, may request to take paid leave for up to three hours to be vaccinated against COVID-19, pursuant to Section 52.13 of the Employment Standards Act.
An employee may request up to three hours of paid leave for each dose of the vaccine.
The employer may request “reasonably sufficient proof” of the employee’s entitlement to COVID-19 vaccination leave. However, an employer must not request, and an employee is not required to provide, a note from a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse for the purposes of a request for COVID-19 vaccination leave.
For example, if an employee is away from work for 2.5 hours to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the employer must pay the employee their average hourly wage for those 2.5 hours.
What if the vaccination appointment takes more than 3 hours?
Unpaid, job-protected leave pursuant to Section 52.12 remains in place to supplement the new paid time off. An employee may take unpaid leave to accompany dependent family members to get vaccinated or if an employee needs more than three hours of paid leave to travel to their vaccine appointment.
Please do not hesitate to contact a lawyer regarding a job-protected, COVID-19 related leave under the Employment Standards Act.
For more information about BC’s vaccination plan, please review BC’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan. For information about the vaccination itself, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare providers.
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