Premier John Horgan (Colin Smith Takes Pics)

The BC government announced Wednesday that workers must be paid while getting their COVID-19 vaccine, retroactive to April 19th 2021.

The amendment to the Employment Standards Act, also known as Bill 3, is now a law that will ensure that employees will not lose pay if they need time away from work to get vaccinated.

This applies to both full-time and part-time employees.

The legislation improves on the regulatory change made on April 1st,that provides unpaid job-protected leave for workers to take the time they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

This unpaid leave remains in place to supplement the new paid time off, for example, to accompany dependent family members to get vaccinated or in the event a worker needs more than three hours of paid leave to travel to their vaccine appointment.

“Guaranteeing paid leave for workers to get vaccinated is an important way to keep workers safe, while reducing risks to businesses,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour.

Paid Sick Leave?

On Tuesday, Premier Horgan said that the province is looking to “fill in the gaps” of the federal government’s national paid sick-leave program.

During Question period on Tuesday, the BC Liberals criticized the provincial government for not implementing a provincially-funded paid sick leave program due to COVID-19 earlier.

In response, Minister of Finance, Selina Robinson, said a national program was the right way to deliver this program and criticized the federal government for not including that in their federal budget for 2021.

The province was working on a provincial sick leave program last summer, but Premier Horgan said on Tuesday that that program has been “taken off the shelf.”

“We’re looking at how to do it in a seamless way without putting more burden on businesses at a time when businesses can least afford it,” said Premier Horgan.

Last May, the BC Employment Standards Coalition and the Retail Action Network called for a provincial program that guaranteed paid sick leave for all workers across the province.

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