Province Mandates Paid Vaccination Leave


On April 21, 2021, the Alberta Government passed Bill 71 - the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Vaccination Leave) Amendment Act, 2021 which took effect immediately. Bill 71 obliges employers to give employees paid leave to permit them to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (the "COVID Vaccination Leave").


If requested by an employee, an employer must provide the employee a leave of up to a maximum of 3 consecutive hours. An employer can, but is not required to, provide more than 3 hours leave. The leave must be paid. Employers must ensure that employees do not lose any earnings or other benefits as a result of taking the COVID Vaccination Leave.


Employees who wish to use COVID Vaccination Leave must provide their employer with "as much notice as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances." What is reasonable and practical is not defined but will have to be considered on a case by case basis, and having regard to the processes in place and used to arrange vaccinations. While walk-in vaccinations are available in many communities, vaccination appointments can be booked as well. Bill 71 does not restrict an employer's right to communicate with employees to ensure they are aware of their options for booking vaccinations, and to try and encourage booking at times and on dates that are likely to be least disruptive to business operations.


Employers can request reasonable proof that the employee is entitled to the COVID Vaccination Leave. However, employees are not required to provide their employer with a medical certificate or record of immunization, nor are employees required to disclose any underlying medical conditions. We anticipate that proof of an employee's vaccination appointment will likely be considered reasonable proof.


Given that the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca require at least two does of the vaccine, employers can anticipate that some employees may be requesting more than one COVID Vaccination Leave over the coming months.


It is possible the Government will also make regulations to provide further direction in regard to COVID Vaccination Leave.


Our lawyers are happy to assist your business with any COVID-related employment questions, including questions relating to the new COVID Vaccination Leave.


Disclaimer: this summary update of legislation changes is provided as an information service. Legislation is subject to changes, and this information is not provided as legal opinion or advice.


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The information in this update is intended as general information and should not be relied on as legal advice.