April 22, 2021
Following the unanimous passing of Bill 71: Employment Standards (COVID-19 Vaccination Leave) Amendment Act, 2021 (“Bill 71”) on April 21, 2021, employees are now entitled to 3-hour paid leaves to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Bill 71 introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Code¹ that applies to all employees regardless of their job status or length of employment. Employees are now entitled to a maximum of 3 consecutive hours of paid leave per vaccine, meaning that each dose of the vaccine is subject to separate vaccination leave.² Employers have the option to provide any period longer than 3 consecutive hours if the employer believes an employee’s individual circumstances warrant a longer period. ³
The legislation encourages employees and employers to work together to schedule COVID-19 vaccination leaves. Before taking a vaccination leave, an employee is required to give the employer as much notice as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances. ⁴
Employers can also request that employees provide reasonably sufficient proof they are entitled to the vaccination leave; ⁵ however, this does not require an employee to provide their employer with a medical certificate or record of immunization or to disclose to the employer any of their underlying medical conditions. ⁶ While “reasonably sufficient proof of entitlement” is not defined in the legislation, the provision likely allows employers to request that an employee provide confirmation of a booked appointment, but employers should be cautious about requesting any details or proof regarding an employee’s eligibility based on age or medical condition.
These amendments took effect immediately upon Bill 71 passing first reading, shortening the typical timeline for passing legislation. At a time where new COVID-19 cases in the province continue to climb, these changes will reduce barriers for eligible Albertans to get vaccinated and encourage eligible Albertans to get the first vaccine that is available to them.
If you would like more information about the impact of COVID-19 on employers or employees, or if you would like to discuss any other employment or health matters, please contact any of our Health Law lawyers or Employment Law lawyers.
¹ RSA 2000, c E-9
² s 53.9821(4)(a)
³ s 53.9821(4)(b)
⁴ s 53.9821(3)
⁵ s 53.9821(6)
⁶ s 53.9821(7)