Knowing Your Rights and Getting Vaccinated
May 17, 2021
To: MoveUP Members outside of BC
We are very encouraged to see vaccination efforts ramp up across the country. Many of our members have already received, or will be receiving in the coming days, their first vaccine dose. 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. You can find information on the provincial health website in your province. 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.
Knowing You Rights
In all the provinces where MoveUP has members (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), each of these provinces has legislated up to three paid hours off for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 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
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.
Some provinces have legislated paid sick leave for workers across the province, but not all. BC legislated up to three paid sick days which will remain until December 31 at which time a permanent paid sick leave legislation will be introduced. Manitoba legislated up to five paid sick days which will remain until September 25. As of this writing, neither Alberta or Saskatchewan has any mandated sick leave. Most, if not all, of our members have paid sick leave provisions in their collective agreements that go above and beyond the legislated minimums in their respective provinces.
Advocating On Your Behalf
We continue to be in contact with your employers to remind them of the right 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 the various health authorities in each respective province, 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