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Paid leave for B.C. workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

VICTORIA, BC: The B.C. government has introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act that, if passed, will provide workers with up to three hours of paid leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

The amendments ensure no one will lose pay if they need time away from work to get vaccinated.

“We know that many workers can’t afford to lose pay, and we need to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “This paid leave will ensure that no one will have to choose between losing pay and getting their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

These amendments expand on the regulatory improvements made on April 1, 2021, that currently provide job-protected leave for workers to take as much time as they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The changes to the act will allow employees to take up to three hours of paid leave to get their COVID-19 vaccine, for each dose.

“We are pleased with the news that the B.C. government is mandating paid time off for all workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Kim Novak, president, UFCW 1518. “Today’s announcement means a critical barrier has been removed for workers – they no longer have to choose between getting paid at work or getting their life-saving vaccinations. This is a big step in the right direction and a big win for workers, especially those who have been working on the front lines throughout this pandemic. They have been hit hard and no longer must worry about having their pay cheque deducted for getting their vaccines. We thank Minister Bains and the B.C. government for acting swiftly on this legislation.”

This paid leave will support the timeline of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan for when the majority of working-aged people in the province will receive their vaccines.

“Bringing in a paid leave for a set few hours for staff to get a vaccination is an opportunity for businesses to look at this as an investment in a future free of COVID-19, which will be good for their business and their bottom line, and ultimately economic recovery for all industries,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

The Ministry of Labour consulted with the business community, labour organizations, Indigenous partners and other stakeholders in developing this legislation to balance paid leave with supports for employers. Businesses suffering from the economic impact of COVID-19 can access direct financial support through the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant and the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program.

“The best thing for all of us – for employers, workers, seniors, our health-care system and our communities – is to bring an end to the pandemic, which we can do through a strong immunization plan that works for everyone in B.C.,” Bains said.

If passed, the effective date will be retroactive to the date of introduction (April 19, 2021).

Written and released by BC Government

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