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COVID-19 vaccination leave for employees

Mark Tector and Bhreagh Ross

With vaccine rollout well underway across the country, employers should be aware of legislative changes that entitle employees to paid or unpaid time-off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are the two Canadian jurisdictions that currently offer specific leave protections for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

Province Vaccine leave legislation Provision
British Columbia Unpaid, job-protected leave to be vaccinated or to take a dependent family member to be vaccinated S. 52.12(2), Employment Standards Act; s. 45.03(2(b), Employment Standards Regulation
Saskatchewan Three hours paid, job-protected leave to be vaccinated S. 6-22.1, The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020

Currently, none of the Atlantic Provinces have enacted specific legislation dealing with leave time for employees to be vaccinated, but it is undoubtedly a topic of conversation for many provincial policymakers.  In some provinces employees may use other statutory leaves to take time off to get the vaccine.  For example, employees in Nova Scotia have a statutory entitlement to three (3) unpaid sick days a year that can be used for such things as medical appointments, including a medical appointment to receive the vaccine.

While pandemic policies are ever-changing, as an employer, it is important to be mindful of your province’s leave requirements when it comes to allowing and encouraging employees to take time off work to get the vaccine as it becomes available.

As part of their policies addressing COVID-19, employers should consider their approach to vaccine leave time, especially as the vaccine becomes more readily available.  Internal policies should also account for dosage needs given that three of the four vaccines currently approved for use in Canada require two doses to be effective. Through proactive vaccine leave policies, employers have the opportunity to send a strong message about the importance of vaccination, which plays a key role in controlling the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace and the broader community.

One of the members of our Labour and Employment group would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding your COVID-19 policy, including leave time for employees to be vaccinated.


This update is intended for general information only. If you have questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour & Employment group.

 

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