New 3-Hour Paid Leave Required by Government
April 19, 2021 – The provincial government has announced its intention to mandate employers provide up to 3 paid hours of time off to each employee for each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Burnaby Board of Trade supported the earlier announced unpaid, job-protected leave as a way of ensuring people got vaccinated when allowed. However, the BBOT cautioned against making the leave paid and creating a new cost for the very businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, including hospitality and food service businesses.
The government will make this law retroactive to today, so employers should expect to provide paid time off of up to 3 hours for employees to get vaccinated from now on. The Burnaby Board of Trade will continue to engage on this issue, especially in determining if this paid time off is also extended to dependents of employees, which was the case with the previously-announced unpaid leave.
We feel a strong vaccination campaign is the only way our economy and communities will recover – and that means an aggressive roll-out by government AND a robust uptake by individuals. Allowing people to take time to get vaccinated – without fear of negative impacts on their jobs – supports this effort of getting people vaccinated quickly.
That said, this needs to be balanced with the potential impacts on employers and that is why we do not support the government mandating this time be offered as paid time off.
We are concerned with the added labour costs a new paid-leave provision would put on businesses which have hourly workers and which would need to pay both those workers for the paid leave plus replacement workers to cover the shift while they are not at work. While this may not seem like a significant expense for larger employers with workers on salary, for a small business with shift workers, this would be a new, unexpected labour cost to their expenses. And the sectors most likely to have these types of workers and face this expense would be precisely the same that have already been hit hardest by the pandemic and related restrictions – restaurants, hospitality, retail, fitness, etc. We would recommend against adding this new cost and requirement onto these businesses.