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COVID-19 vaccination and the workplace

In Step 3 of BC’s Restart plan, employers are no longer required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and can instead transition to communicable disease prevention.

A communicable disease is an illness caused by an infectious agent or its toxic product that can be transmitted in a workplace from person to person. Examples of communicable diseases that may circulate in a workplace include COVID-19, norovirus, and seasonal influenza.

Communicable disease prevention focuses on basic risk reduction principles to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. The fundamental components of communicable disease prevention include both ongoing measures to maintain at all times and additional measures to be implemented as advised by Public Health.

One of the ongoing measures to maintain is supporting employees in receiving vaccinations for vaccine-preventable conditions to the extent that you are able.

Public health announcements

August 23: PHO announces proof of vaccination requirement effective September 13

By order of the provincial health officer (PHO), proof of vaccination will be required to access some events, services, and businesses beginning on September 13. Getting vaccinated keeps everyone in B.C. safe and stops the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the proof of vaccination requirement.

August 31: COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures Order (updated)

This order applies to long-term care facilities, private hospitals, standalone extended care hospitals, and assisted living residences. See the order.

COVID-19 vaccination

Can an employer require workers to disclose their vaccination status?

A PHO order may require select employers in certain sectors to collect vaccination status from their workers, such as for those who work in long-term care and assisted living facilities. However for other employers, checking vaccination status of their workers is not currently a public health requirement or a WorkSafeBC requirement. Similar to mandatory vaccination policies, employers should seek legal advice when deciding to implement such policies. The BC Vaccine Card being rolled out by the provincial government is for patrons to access certain venues and events and does not apply to workers at these businesses.

Employers may refer to A human rights approach to proof of vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic, published by B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, for advice on how employers can approach vaccination status policies.

Can an employer require a vaccination as a condition of employment?

Every workplace is different, so individual employers should seek legal advice when developing a mandatory vaccination policy, as they need to address not only workplace health and safety and employees’ interests but also consider labour and employment, as well as human rights, issues.

Employers may refer to A human rights approach to proof of vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic, published by B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, for advice on how employers can approach vaccination status policies.


Can a worker file a claim for an adverse reaction to a work-related COVID-19 vaccination?

If a worker has an adverse reaction to a work-related COVID-19 vaccination, the information below will help you determine if a claim should be submitted.

If a worker thinks they have a work-related case of COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 claims information for workers and information for employers to learn more about submitting a claim.

When could an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine be work-related?

If a worker submits a claim for an adverse reaction, injury, or death from the COVID-19 vaccine, it would have to be shown that the adverse reaction, injury, or death arose out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. WorkSafeBC considers:

  • Whether the COVID-19 vaccination was a mandatory requirement of employment.
  • If the worker sustained an injury (or death) as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Was the COVID-19 vaccination a requirement of employment?

To determine whether the worker’s injury or death resulting from the COVID-19 vaccination arose out of and in the course of the worker’s employment, WorkSafeBC establishes whether the inoculation or injection was a requirement of the worker’s employment.

The COVID-19 vaccination would be considered to be required by employment if it meets one of the following criteria as outlined by policy in the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual (page 84):

  1. The inoculation or injection is required by the employer, either as a condition of employment or as a condition of continued employment. For example:
    • The worker is advised by the employer that they cannot work unless they have the vaccination.
  2. Although the employer has advised that the inoculation or injection is not a condition of employment, without the vaccination, the worker would not be permitted at work if there was an outbreak on the employer’s premises. Examples would include:
    • If there is an outbreak of COVID-19, the employer will not permit their non-vaccinated employees to work until the outbreak has passed while vaccinated employees are allowed to continue to work.
    • Without the vaccination, the worker is not able to access available extra shifts or duties. For example, a nurse is not able take shifts on a specific ward (i.e., emergency room or COVID-19 unit) unless vaccinated.
  3. The worker is convinced that it was necessary to receive the inoculation or injection, in spite of objective evidence from the employer that the process was not compulsory. If a worker contends that it was mandatory, WorkSafeBC will investigate the individual merits and circumstances as to why the worker felt the vaccination was a requirement of their employment. The following are examples where it may be reasonable to conclude that the worker was convinced that it was necessary:

Once it is established that the COVID-19 vaccination was a requirement of the worker’s employment, or the worker was convinced that it was necessary for employment, any injury or death that resulted from the vaccination would be considered to arise out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. All claims are adjudicated on the merits and justice of the case.

If the inoculation or injection was received voluntarily by the worker, either as part of a program put on by the employer or in any other circumstances, and the evidence supports that the COVID-19 vaccination was not a requirement or condition of the worker’s employment as noted above, any injury or death resulting from an adverse reaction to the inoculation or injection is not likely to be considered to have arisen in the course of the worker’s employment.