B.C. guarantees workers 3 hours paid leave for COVID-19 vaccine appointments

·2 min read
People are pictured lined up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine during a walk-in clinic at the Poirier Forum in Coquitlam, British Columbia on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
People are pictured lined up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine during a walk-in clinic at the Poirier Forum in Coquitlam, British Columbia on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Workers in B.C. are now guaranteed three hours of paid leave to receive each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

The update to B.C's Employment Standards Act applies to full- and part-time workers and is retroactive to April 19, 2021.

A statement from the province said the legislation is an improvement on the change announced in early April, which provided unpaid job-protected leave for workers to take the time they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This unpaid leave remains in place to supplement the new paid time off, for example, to accompany dependant family members to get vaccinated or in the event a worker needs more than three hours of paid leave to travel to their vaccine appointment," read the statement.

"Guaranteeing paid leave for workers to get vaccinated is an important way to keep workers safe, while reducing risks to businesses. Our government believes it's in everyone's interest to remove all barriers to a worker getting vaccinated when they are eligible to do so," said Labour Minister Harry Bains in the statement.

At this point in B.C.'s vaccination plan, people are receiving their shots in a mix of public clinics and pharmacies, depending on their age, occupation, where they live and their disabilities and underlying conditions.

On Tuesday, people waited up to four hours outside a sports complex in Coquitlam, B.C., after the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine was made available for the first time to people over the age of 30 in "hot spot" communities.

The province said that as more doses of AstraZeneca become available, appointments at pharmacies will be added and it will be made available to anyone in the province aged 30 and older.

People 59 and up are receiving doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in public clinics, along with Indigenous B.C. residents over the age of 18.

In Phase 4, from May to June, immunizations in public vaccination clinics will begin for those aged between 58 and 18, in descending five-year increments. The youngest group, aged 18-24, can expect to receive one dose by June.