UPDATED: Which Provinces Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination Leave?
As Canada’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines finally picks up steam, several provinces have taken steps to increase accessibility – including adding new COVID-19 vaccination leaves of absence. These leaves enable workers to take time off from work (with pay) to get their shot.
So, which provinces require employers to provide paid COVID-19 vaccination leave?
Alberta employees are entitled to a maximum of 3 consecutive hours of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (or a longer period if the employer determines that circumstances warrant it).
Employees must give their employer as much notice as is reasonably possible. Employers may request reasonably sufficient proof of entitlement to this leave. However, employees are not required to:
- provide a medical certificate or record of immunization as verification of entitlement to the leave; or
- disclose any underlying medical conditions.
B.C. employees are entitled to up to 3 hours of paid leave for each request to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At a minimum, employees must be paid an amount equal to the number of hours of the leave multiplied by the average hourly wage.
Employees are also entitled to unpaid leave if they need:
- to assist a dependant (e.g., the employee’s child or a person under their care who is unable to care for themselves due to illness/disability) who is being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
- more than 3 hours to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.
Employers may ask employees to provide reasonably sufficient proof of entitlement to this leave as soon as practicable, but not a medical note.
While federally regulated employers are not required to provide a specific leave related to COVID-19 vaccines, they must provide employees with 5 days of “personal leave” to treat an illness or injury. After 3 consecutive months of employment, the first 3 days are paid.
Manitoba recently passed a Bill adding a 3 hour paid leave for each time employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees must give their employer as much notice as is reasonable and practicable. Employers may request proof of entitlement to this leave, but not a medical certificate.
In addition, Manitoba announced a new Pandemic Sick Leave Program, which will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to 5 days for COVID-19 related sick leave. This includes obtaining a vaccination and suffering from their side effects.
Nova Scotia does not require employers to provide employees with leave to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine per se. However, the province did announce a new COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program, which will reimburse employers up to $640 per employee for up to 4 days for COVID-19 related sick leave. This includes going to get vaccinated.
Effective April 19, 2021, Ontario employees are entitled to 3 days of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or recover from any side effects. Generally, employers must pay the employee the lesser of:
- $200 per day; and
- the wages the employee would have earned; or
- the greater of the employee’s hourly rate or minimum wage (if the employee receives performance-related wages).
Employers may apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to be reimbursed for payments, up to a maximum of $200 per day, per employee.
Employees are not entitled to overtime pay, shift premiums, or premium pay for public holidays. Employers may deem a partial day to be a full day of leave. If, on April 19, 2021, an employee is already entitled to an equal or greater amount of paid leave per an employment contract, the above entitlement would be reduced by the employee’s entitlement under the contract.
Subject to any extensions, this entitlement ends on September 25, 2021.
Employees must advise the employer that they will be taking the leave as soon as possible. Employers may require an employee to provide proof of entitlement to the leave that is reasonable in the circumstances, at a reasonable time, but not a medical certificate.
Note: Ontario employees may also use these 3 days of paid leave if they are sick due to COVID-19 or in quarantine/isolation.
Prince Edward Island
PEI does not require employers to provide employees with leave to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine per se. However, they have established a program that will reimburse employers without a paid sick leave program for wages paid to employees who have taken time off due to COVID-19 related reasons, including to attend a vaccination appointment.
In addition, employees with 5+ years of continuous service are entitled to 1 day of paid sick leave.
While Quebec does not mandate COVID-19 vaccination leave, it does require employers to provide 2 days of paid sick leave after 3 months of of uninterrupted service.
Quebec is also the only jurisdiction that mandates vaccines for certain employees – it requires health and social services workers to provide their employers with proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or at least three screening tests per week.
Employees are entitled to a minimum of 3 consecutive hours of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (or a longer period if the employer determines that circumstances warrant it).
Rest of Canada
New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador do not specifically require employers to provide a paid leave to employees obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine or for illness/injury in general.