As the deadline looms for compliance with mandatory workplace vaccination policies, many workers are left wondering what happens if they’re placed on an unpaid leave of absence. Earlier this week, the EI program notified stakeholders that workers placed on unpaid leaves of absence due to non-compliance with a mandated vaccination policy in their workplace, will not be eligible for EI benefits.
In exceptional cases, the EI program may contact a worker to determine if the employer’s policy was;
- Clearly communicated in the workplace
- If workers were made aware that non-compliance would result in being placed on an unpaid leave of absence, suspension or termination.
- Whether a worker had a valid reason to not comply, but the employer did not grant an accommodation
Employers would be required to provide documentation proving their policy was widely distributed, and most importantly, that workers were aware of consequences of non-compliance.
The EI program has instructed employers to code unpaid leaves of absence due to COVID-19 vaccination policies as either a worker quitting their job, or that they’re on a leave of absence. In either case, EI regulations are such that workers are not eligible for benefits.
The IAMAW, along with other affiliated unions through the Canada Labour Congress, approached the federal government and recommended that workers not be penalized. Unfortunately, business interests spoke louder, and the Liberal government, once again, ignored worker’s voices.