Written By Christine Plante and Tom Richards
On April 21, 2021, pursuant to Bill 71, the Government of Alberta amended the Employment Standards Code to create a COVID-19 Vaccination Leave that will allow employees to take paid time off of work to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
If requested by an employee, the employer must allow the employee to take up to three hours of paid, job-protective leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. This leave is available to all employees regardless of job status or length of service. The employer is required to ensure that the employee does not lose any earnings or other benefits, or suffer any other negative reprisal, as a result of taking this leave.
The employer is allowed to extend the three-hour leave period if, in the opinion of the employer, the circumstances warrant a longer period.
Although employers are required to permit this leave of absence, employees have a duty to provide the employer with as much notice as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances. These circumstances will include the availability of vaccinations balanced against the employee's job requirements.
The employer is allowed to request proof from the employee that they are entitled to take leave to receive a vaccination. While not clarified in Bill 71, this likely refers to proof of the vaccination appointment. However, the employee is not required to provide the following information:
- a medical certificate or record of immunization; or
- to disclose to the employer any underlying medical condition.
Employers who have questions regarding the implementation of this new COVID-19 Vaccination leave of absence, or regarding the impact of COVID-19 upon their legal obligations more generally, are advised to contact a member of the Bennett Jones Employment Services group.