As the “circuit breaker” measures and travel restrictions continue to apply across British Columbia to help combat the third wave of COVID-19, Bill 3: Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2021 (“Bill 3”) received Royal Assent on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
Bill 3 amends the British Columbia Employment Standards Act to provide all employees with up to three hours of paid leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine (the “COVID Vaccine Leave”). The COVID Vaccine Leave is currently in effect, retroactive to April 19, 2021.
All employees are entitled to this paid COVID Vaccine Leave upon request, regardless of the employee’s tenure or whether the employee is employed on a full-time or part-time basis.
The amount of pay to which an employee is entitled when taking a COVID Vaccine Leave is calculated based on the employee’s average hourly wage over the previous 30 calendar days, as determined by the formula amount paid ÷ hours worked, where
“amount paid” is the amount paid or payable to the employee for work that is done during and wages that are earned within the 30 calendar day period preceding the leave, including vacation pay that is paid or payable for any days of vacation taken within that period, less any amounts paid or payable for overtime, and
“hours worked” is the number of hours the employee worked or earned wages within that 30 calendar day period.
An employer is permitted to request that an employee provide reasonably sufficient proof that the employee is entitled to the COVID Vaccine Leave. However, an employer cannot require that an employee provide a medical note as a condition of requesting this leave.
The unpaid “COVID-19-related leave” also remains in place to supplement the paid COVID Vaccine Leave. For example, an employee remains entitled to unpaid leave under the British Columbia Employment Standards Act to accompany dependant family members to get vaccinated or in the event the employee needs more than three hours to travel to their vaccine appointment.
The government has stated that Bill 3 is intended to support British Columbians through the current COVID-19 pandemic and will be in place until repealed by regulation.
We will continue to monitor and provide updates as soon as they become available. The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving with new measures being adopted or modified at both the federal and provincial level.