Announcement: Paid COVID-19 Vaccination Leave of Absence
The B.C. Government has introduced new legislation - Bill 3 - which once it is passed, will add a new section (52.13) to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) providing employees with a paid leave of absence to be vaccinated against COVID-19, retroactive to April 19, 2021. (The provision does not provide employees with a retroactive right to the paid leave for time taken off work to be vaccinated before April 19, 2021, although two of OC’s collective agreements and our practices do make allowances for employees attending medical appointments).
The new leave will provide employees with a right of up to three hours of paid leave to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The leave is available each time an employee needs time off to be vaccinated. The paid leave is in addition to the unpaid COVID-related leaves provided under section 52.12 of the ESA.
We anticipate the Bill will pass and be given Royal Assent, so have advised our leadership team to act as if it were already in force, given its retroactive date.
If you have any questions please contact your supervisor.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Will all employees receive the new leave?
Not all employees will require leave or the full three hours’ leave from work to obtain their vaccinations. They may already have received one or more doses before April 19, or may have an appointment outside of working hours. The employer may approve less than three hours of leave if the employee needs less time off work to obtain the vaccine, such as where an employee’s appointment is close to or at their worksite.
2. What kind of documentation can employers request?
Employers may request reasonably sufficient proof that the employee is entitled to the leave. This may take the form of confirmation about the location, date and time of the employee’s appointment, such as an appointment confirmation email, or the employee could offer their post-vaccination vaccine record card. Please note that, as with other COVID-19 leaves under the ESA, Okanagan College will not request a medical note (from a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse) to confirm entitlement to the leave.
3. Does this apply for employees to take a dependent to obtain a vaccine for the dependent?
The new paid leave of absence is available for the employee to be personally vaccinated against COVID-19. Unlike the job-protected unpaid leave under the ESA introduced effective April 1, 2021, the paid leave does not extend to employees accompanying or assisting others to be vaccinated. An employee who needs time off work to assist a dependent to be vaccinated against COVID-19 remains eligible for an unpaid leave of absence under the ESA (or an applicable leave of absence under the collective agreement or employment agreement).
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