BCH & Powertech – Labour Board decision on employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate

July 6, 2022

To: All MoveUP members at BCH & Powertech

We are writing to inform you that the BC Labour Board has rendered its decision on our union’s grievance of the BC Hydro COVID-19 vaccine mandate for those members who have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ruling supports MoveUP’s arguments

In the decision rendered by Arbitrator Somjen, the labour board has determined that “carve outs” (in other words, accommodations) are appropriate for members who can either work exclusively from home, or that work outside without contact with others.

Arbitrator Somjen found that allowing members who can do so to work from home or work alone outdoors was less invasive of their privacy and a reasonable alternative to mandatory vaccination, and therefore that carve outs are appropriate and practical for unvaccinated employees who, during the height of the pandemic, worked exclusively from home and can continue to do so.

Additionally, the arbitrator found carve outs to be appropriate for unvaccinated employees who work outside and have no in-person contact with other employees, contractors, or the public.

Employer’s COVID-19 vaccine policy overall remains reasonable

Although Arbitrator Somjen ruled that carve outs are reasonable for those who can work exclusively from home or work outside without contact with others, they also ruled that the existing policy was reasonable with respect to members who work in camp settings (such as Site C) or members who are required to be in contact (whether indoors or outdoors) or others.

Therefore, there are no carve outs for those who work in a camp setting (e.g. Site C), in offices, labs, or other indoor or outdoor environment where they have in-person contact with other employees, contractors, or the public.

Next steps

The arbitrator’s decision did not provide any determinations, at this point, on compensation or return-to-work conditions on those employees who have been on leave of absence but whose role has been determined to be reasonable for a carve out. Arbitrator Somjen has left the decision with the parties to discuss and come to conclusion on.

Should the parties not be able to agree on the carve outs, we have further arbitration dates set for late September to discuss those terms, and potentially have the arbitrator rule on them.

For those whose roles requires in-person work, the mandatory vaccination policy is now confirmed. For those members who are in those roles who choose to remain unvaccinated, you will continue to remain on leave of absence. However, we will have further discussions with BC Hydro on whether it is possible for those roles to be conducted safely and alone with reasonable adjustments.

Please watch for updates

We encourage all our members to continue to watch for our bulletin updates. To ensure your email address is updated, please log in to the Member Portal. If you have not previously created a Member Portal account, you can find information on how to do that here.

In solidarity,

Javed Saheb, Union Representative

File Number: 22-BCH-BLTN-update-labour-board-decision-on-employer-COVID19-vaccine-mandate-July-6
Union Label: km/usw:2009


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