Knowing Your Rights and Getting Vaccinated
May 17, 2021
To: MoveUP Members in BC
We are very encouraged to see our BC provincial rollout of vaccination proceeding very rapidly. It is hard to imagine that in just over two months since vaccination appointments opened for the general public that all people aged 18-and-above can book an appointment. The great news is that over 50% of people in BC have already gotten their first vaccine shot. Soon people will be getting a second shot and we want to make sure that you are prepared. Please read this bulletin so that you know your rights and what to do if you have any side effects.
If you have not already, get registered and get your vaccine to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. Go to gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated to register. Most importantly, you are helping to put this pandemic behind us so we can get back to the things we love such as spending time with friends and family.
Everybody should register if they have not yet done so, even if you already received your first shot prior to the launch of the system, to ensure you are contacted for your second shot.
Knowing Your Rights
Recently the BC Government changed the BC Employment Standards Act to protect you. The new rules require all employers to provide up to three paid hours off for workers to receive each COVID-19 vaccine shot. Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to this leave. This is separate from any paid sick leave you may have.
If your employer indicates you need to take sick leave, vacation time, or an unpaid day off to get your vaccine, this is illegal. Please let your job steward know right away and they can bring it to our attention.
Federally-regulated employers are not bound by the BC Employment Standards Act. That means they may not be legally required to provide this leave. For our members in these workplaces, if your employer is refusing to provide paid time off to get your vaccine, please let your job steward know immediately.
Side Effects and Paid Sick Leave
As the majority of British Columbians turn their attention to receiving their second shot, it should be noted that research and experience from around the world has shown that more people tend to experience a reaction from their second dose than they did with their first.
The good news is that for the most part, these reactions are mild and are actually indications that the vaccine is doing its job by stimulating an immune response. Fatigue and fever are more commonly reported side effects from a second dose, compared to a first, and side effects have been reported to last longer compared to those from a first shot. Women, and individuals younger than 55, were more likely to report side effects.
So please be aware that experiencing these side effects is not unusual, and that we encourage members to take the appropriate sick leave as needed to recover from potential side effects. By not giving yourself adequate time to recover, it could lead to a longer recovery time and more severe effects.
Your sick days are there for a reason, and we encourage everyone who experiences side effects following a vaccine shot to take the time off if needed.
BC has recently legislated up to three paid sick days for workers across the province. However most, if not all, of our members have paid sick days that have been negotiated into our collective agreements, that are there to protect you for cases just like this.
Advocating On Your Behalf
MoveUP President David Black is sending a letter to all our employers to remind them of the rights of workers for paid time off to get vaccinated as well as their paid sick leave entitlements. We have also communicated to them the importance of understanding that side effects are more common following a second vaccine shot and to be understanding of employees who will require short periods away from work to deal with potential reactions.
Employers have also been reminded that, as per the directions set out by BC Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, that doctor’s notes are NOT required to access paid sick leave for COVID-19 purposes. Your employer may still require some evidence such as proof of a vaccine shot (you receive this when you get your shot) or proof of a COVID-19 test taken if you are awaiting results and required to self-isolate, but a doctor’s note is NOT needed.
We Are Here For You
If you have any workplace concerns, related to COVID-19 or otherwise, please get in touch with your job steward or your union representative. We are here to support you.
We thank all of you for doing your part, getting vaccinated, and helping us to bring this pandemic to a close as quickly as possible.
David Black, President
Lori Mayhew, Secretary-Treasurer
Rysa Kronebusch, Vice-President, Utilities
Christy Slusarenko, Vice-President, Combined Units
Annette Toth, Vice-President, ICBC