B.C. Workers Granted Job-Protected Leave to get COVID-19 Vaccine

On April 1, 2021, the B.C. Government expanded the scope of the current unpaid COVID-19 related leave by granting all part-time and full-time workers with the ability to take unpaid time away from work to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with assurance that they won’t lose their jobs.

The leave also permits workers unpaid time off work to take dependents to receive the vaccine.

The province has made regulatory changes to the Employment Standards Act (B.C.) to account for this change, and is currently exploring options to provide workers with paid leave while getting their vaccine, however this is currently still in the consultation phase.

Update: On April 28, the changes to the Employment Standards Act came into force which provides workers with up to three hours of paid leave to receive each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Additional changes to the Employment Standards Act (B.C.) include expanding the provincial COVID-19 related leave to align with the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB). A worker can now take COVID-19 related leave if they need to care for family members, not just dependents, due to COVID-19. Workers with underlying conditions, who are undergoing treatment or who have contracted another illness that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19, will also be allowed to take the leave.

The Federal Government made changes to the CRSB and CRCB after B.C. initially introduced the COVID-19 related leave last March, so these new changes ensure job protection for all eligible federal benefit programs.

We will continue to monitor for further information regarding the expansion of the COVID-19 job-protected leave. The MLT Aikins labour and employment team would be pleased to assist you with any questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccination leave.

Note: This article is of a general nature only. Laws and government programs may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.