The BC Labour Board recently denied an application for an interim order challenging the mandatory vaccination policies of a number of large public sector employers.
Across the country, unions and employers are both clashing and cooperating over mandatory vaccination policies. Some unions have proactively supported mandatory vaccination, while others have actively resisted such policies. The topic remains one of substantial interest to employers across Canada.
Recently, MoveUP Local 378 filed a complaint alleging a number of employers breached their legislative obligations when they unilaterally implemented mandatory vaccination policies without consultation with the union. In advance of any hearing of the complaint, the union sought an interim order suspending the mandatory vaccination policies until good faith negotiations between the employers and the union could occur.
The BC Labour Board denied the application for an interim order, reasoning that a failure to issue the order sought would not create an “impassable barrier” for relief for the employees affected by the mandatory vaccination policies. These employees would still be able to go on unpaid leave rather than vaccinate, and if the Union’s complaint is ultimately validated, an order for damages can compensate the affected employees appropriately. The Board also concluded the topic of interim relief in the union’s application was an issue better suited for an arbitrator.
Recently, an Ontario arbitrator dismissed a policy grievance challenging a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. In Paragon Protection Ltd. and UFCW Local 333, unreported, the Employer, a security guard company, had required all its employees to be fully vaccinated by October 31, 2021, or face potential disciplinary measures, up to and including termination. The policy was challenged by the Union as being unreasonable, but it was ultimately validated by the arbitrator.
These recent decisions can be considered for guidance alongside the growing number of other decisions relating to mandatory vaccination policies, a topic which will continue to evolve.
If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccination policies, other COVID-19 related issues or any questions relating to workplace law generally, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.