As many of you already have heard, effective yesterday April 21, 2021, Alberta's Employment Standards Code ("the ESC") was amended to require Alberta employers to provide up to 3 hours of paid job protected leave to any employee requesting such leave to attend a Covid-19 vaccination appointment. The linked quote below are the quick facts posted by the government. The following link will take you to the actual new legislation which is the new section 53.9821 of the ESC: https://docs.assembly.ab.ca/LADDAR_files/docs/bills/bill/legislature_30/session_2/20200225_bill-071.pdf
Obviously this is very new and details and twists in its implementation and interpretation will evolve in the coming weeks. However here are my quick key points of emphasis and thoughts:
1. Upside here for employers and workplaces is that this should encourage more of your employees to get vaccinated which is in the best interests of your workplace health and safety and business operations.
2. Note it is up to 3 hours, not an automatic 3 hours off with pay if it only takes 1 hour to go and get vaccinated. Your employee can be required to take reasonable steps to minimize the time away from work.
2. An employee requesting such leave must give the employer as much notice as is "reasonably and practicable in the circumstances". The government quick facts also make the helpful statement that employees should discuss this with their employer prior to booking their appointment. This opens the door to reasonable discussions with your employee making the request on potential alternate times or arrangements to minimize work disruptions while still facilitating vaccination, but understand that an employer should be careful not to refuse such leave when requested.
3. Interestingly, the new legislation states that the employer can request sufficient proof from the employee, as soon as practicable, that they are entitled to the leave, but that the employer cannot require a medical certificate or record of immunization. My thought based on this, is it is likely best for the employer to request proof of the vaccination appointment such as the email or other electronic confirmation of the appointment that the employee receives.
4. Note that the legislation also expressly states that in addition to the leave being paid up to 3 hours, it can't result in any loss of benefits. Some employees will have unique benefits that may come into play here and they should seek further specific legal advice on such situations. The legislation does permit for regulations to be made respecting earnings and benefits that cannot be deducted as a result of this leave but there are no regulatory rules issued at this time to our knowledge.
Quick facts These amendments will take effect on the day the bill receives first reading. Employees will be allowed up to three hours paid, job-protected leave per vaccine. All full-time and part-time employees are eligible regardless of length of employment. Employees should discuss vaccination leave with employers prior to booking their appointment.