B.C. finalizes vaccine mandate for workers

Employees who do not comply to be placed on unpaid leave for three months

B.C. finalizes vaccine mandate for workers

B.C. is providing further details about its requirement that all direct government employees be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22, 2021.

The policy applies to any employee working for the BC public service, regardless of whether the employee works on site or remotely. This also includes employees of any board, commission, agency or organization to which the Public Service Act applies or whose employees are hired in accordance with the Public Service Act, unless their organization has a comparable policy in place by Nov. 22.

The move follows similar policies in the Northwest Territories,  Quebec and Nova Scotia and the Yukon.

Earlier, Ottawa announced that all workers in federally regulated workplaces had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29.

In addition, the existing BC Public Service Occupational Safety and Health Policy has been updated to require contractors and others accessing employee-only areas of indoor public service workplaces to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 13, 2021.

How do medical exemptions work? Is COVID testing a good alternative? How will the courts respond? Canadian HR Reporter recently spoke with Neena Gupta, a labour lawyer at Gowlings in Waterloo, Ont., for answers to some of the newer questions involving vaccine mandates in the workplace.

Unpaid leave, termination

Those employees who do not have at least one dose of the vaccine by Nov. 22, and do not have an approved exemption based on a medical condition or other legitimate grounds, will be placed on unpaid leave for three months.

Partially vaccinated employees may be offered alternative work arrangements and will be required to provide proof of full vaccination within 35 days of having their first dose. Partially vaccinated employees who are not fully vaccinated within that timeline will be placed on unpaid leave.

Employees who are still unvaccinated after the three-month unpaid leave may be terminated, says the government.

“The proof of vaccination policy will be in effect until public health concerns regarding COVID-19 are reduced to a level, prescribed by government, to enable workplaces to operate without restrictions or a vaccination requirement.”’

The federal government has provided additional information to help employers issue records of employment (ROEs) for employees who refuse to comply with an employer’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

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