With the vaccine becoming more widely available, questions about vaccine passports, time off to get the vaccine and whether employers can require employees to get the vaccine are becoming more relevant.
Paid Vaccination Leave in Saskatchewan
Last week a new paid vaccine leave became law in Saskatchewan. This leave, which was made under Saskatchewan’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020, allows workers to take PAID time off to get their vaccines. Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement this type of leave.
The leave allows workers up to three consecutive hours, or more if the employer determines appropriate, during their work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The employee cannot lose pay for leaving work to receive their vaccine.
The paid nature of the leave removes a barrier for workers who might otherwise be hesitant to lose paid work hours in order to receive their shot.
Vaccine passports are a hot topic and are currently being used in Isreal where more than half the population is vaccinated. The “green pass” is required to participate in some activities. Serious concerns regarding equality and privacy continue to swirl around vaccine passport proposals. It remains to be seen whether this is something Canada will consider.
Vaccination Requirements for Workplaces
We wrote about the employer’s ability to require employees to be vaccinated back in December. You can read that post here. The degree to which an employer can require an employee to be vaccinated will likely depend on their industry. In many workplaces, requiring workers to get vaccinated when they can may be a very reasonable position. If an employee in such a workplace refuses, the employer will want to inquire as to why before jumping to conclusions. Employers should not discriminate against employees who have a legitimate human rights reason for not getting vaccinated. For example, if it is contrary to their religion or would be going against medical advice. These workers should be accommodated up to the point of undue hardship for the employer.
In workplaces that are currently operating remotely, it may be reasonable to require employees who wish to return to the office to be vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees can continue to work remotely. Requiring all employees to be vaccinated and return to the office may not be a reasonable approach when operations have been taking place remotely without incident and could presumably be continued for employees not yet vaccinated.
If you have questions about managing pandemic – or any – workplace issues, get in touch for a consultation.