UFCW 1518 calls for front-line workers to have time off to receive COVID-19 vaccines

As vaccination efforts ramp up in British Columbia, UFCW 1518 is calling on the provincial government to ensure that front-line workers have the right to take four uninterrupted hours off work when they receive a vaccination appointment.

The proposal is based on the four hours that workers are entitled to take off in order to vote on election day or in advanced polls. This law helps to preserve free and fair elections in Canada by ensuring that no one misses the chance to vote if they cannot get time off work.

UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak sent a letter to Labour Minister Harry Bains and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday asking them to grant front-line workers the right to four uninterrupted hours off work so they are able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine when the time comes for their appointment. It also asks that the government institute an order that prevents employers from retaliating against any worker that takes time off to get vaccinated.

“Front-line workers in retail, grocery, and industrial food processing environments may not be able to take regular time off in the short turnaround between becoming eligible for a vaccine and receiving an appointment,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “We’re asking the government to step in to prevent logistical barriers to vaccination for front-line workers. That means if a front-line worker is scheduled to work on the day they have their vaccination appointment, they should be given the time off work that they need to attend.”

In January, UFCW 1518 asked the Provincial Government to ensure that front-line workers in grocery, retail, community health and home care, and industrial food processing be given early access to COVID-19 vaccines once the most vulnerable populations have been vaccinated. Many workers in community health and home care have been receiving these early vaccinations, helping them to continue supporting elderly and vulnerable British Columbians in their homes.

Phase 3 of the BC COVID-19 vaccination plan makes front-line workers eligible to receive the vaccine ahead of their age group when extra doses are available.

UFCW 1518 members have been helping to flatten the curve in their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. UFCW 1518 will continue to advocate for these workers to be given every protection against COVID-19.