As British Columbia battles the third wave of COVID-19, the government has introduced legislation which, if passed, will provide employees with paid leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On April 1, 2021, the British Columbia government introduced an unpaid job-protected leave of absence for employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or to assist a dependent in getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
The legislative changes tabled by the government on April 19 go further and, if passed, will require British Columbia employers to provide eligible employees with up to three hours of paid leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.
The proposed amendment includes a formula for calculating the minimum amount to pay employees during this leave. Employers must pay an amount “equal to at least the amount calculated by multiplying the number of hours of the leave and the average hourly wage,” where the employee’s average hourly wage is determined by the formula: amount paid ÷ hours worked:
Amount paid is the amount paid or payable to the employee for work that is done during and wages that are earned within the 30 calendar day period preceding the leave, including vacation pay that is paid or payable for any days of vacation taken within that period, less any amounts paid or payable for overtime, and
Hours worked is the number of hours the employee worked or earned wages within that 30 calendar day period.
While an employer will be able to ask employees to provide sufficient proof that they are entitled to this leave, an employer cannot require that employees provide a medical note as a condition of requesting this paid leave.
The legislation is currently at the first reading stage and we will keep you informed of its status. If passed, the paid leave will be retroactive to April 19, 2021. There is no stated expiry date for the new paid leave.
The government explained that this paid leave is intended to support the timeline of the province’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan for when the majority of working-aged people in the province will receive their vaccines. By the end of this week, all adults aged 18 and over will be invited to register for their COVID-19 vaccine. Detailed information on how to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in British Columbia is available here.
if you have any questions about this paid leave, or any other COVID-19 related labour and employment issue, please contact a member of our Labour, Employment & Human Rights Group.
Update: Bill 3 received royal assent on April 27, 2021. The amendments to the Employment Standards Act are in force retroactively as of April 19, 2021.
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