Vaccine Passports in the Workplace, and Guidance from Service Canada

With vaccine numbers on the rise and vaccine passports fast becoming a mandatory requirement to enter into recreational events and businesses, many BC employees have found themselves questioning if there will be any exemptions to presenting proof of vaccination in the workplace.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Vaccine Passport System

As of 13 September 2021, the BC Government has mandated that all individuals need to show their vaccine passport should they wish to enter certain business premises, including, among others:

  • Indoor concerts and ticketed sporting events.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Movie theatres.
  • Casinos.
  • Gym facilities.
  • Licensed restaurants and cafes.

Vaccine Passports in the Workplace

But how does this vaccine mandate translate into the workplace? At present, there is not much guidance from the government for businesses.

This becomes especially complicated when some workers cannot and will not present vaccine records. What should the business do?

Having a clear approach to your vaccine policies is helpful. Understanding how the law applies to you will help you assess your risks better and make informed decisions.

We encourage you to contact an employment lawyer if you would like to better understand your legal position.

Service Canada has provided some direction to employers filling out records of employment (ROE) in the following instances:

  • When the employee doesn’t report to work because they refuse to comply with your mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, use code E (quit) or code N (leave of absence).
  • When you suspend or terminate an employee for not complying with your mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, use code M (dismissal).

If you use these codes, we may contact you to determine:

  • if you had adopted and clearly communicated to all employees a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy;
  • if the employees were informed that failure to comply with the policy would result in loss of employment;
  • if the application of the policy to the employee was reasonable within the workplace context;
  • if there were any exemptions for refusing to comply with the policy.

These codes will likely affect the worker’s ability to collect employment insurance. It seems these codes on an ROE will indicate a denial of employment insurance.

The case of Human Rights and Accommodations

Accommodation for medical reasons continue to be a relevant request in the workplace. If a worker has a medical exemption from the mandatory vaccine policy it should present that information to its employer and the employer should consider it. Cogent and clear medical notes in writing which suggest you are exempted from the Covid-19 vaccine is relevant to a request for an accommodation that the policy not apply to you. If you have questions about this, please call and employment lawyer to discuss your options.

Key Takeaways

Businesses are increasingly adopting vaccine passport requirements across British Columbia. There are few guidelines around this topic from the government. The recent information provided by Service Canada regarding Covid-19 vaccine passport related dismissals.

Like before, employers must accommodate their employees reasonable accommodation requests.

If you believe your employer hasn’t taken the necessary steps to accommodate you, please contact a human rights lawyer today.

At Arghandewal Law, Zoe is dedicated to assisting employees understand their legal positions, rights, and work towards the best resolution.

So, if you have any questions about your employer’s duty to accommodate or the vaccine passport, contact us today!

*Image Source (sample vaccine card): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/proof

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