COVID-19 vaccination policy for BC Public Service employees
HR Policy 25 – COVID-19 vaccination is rescinded effective April 3, 2023. The COVID-19 vaccination requirement remains in effect until then.
Last updated: March 10, 2023
Rescinding HR Policy 25 FAQs – Effective April 3, 2023
The COVID-19 vaccination policy was intended to be reviewed on a periodic basis. High COVID-19 vaccination rates combined with public health guidance has been successful in allowing most workplaces to operate with little to no COVID-related restrictions. While the future trajectory of the pandemic remains uncertain, the current environment indicates the policy is no longer necessary to promote the health and safety of employees and other individuals.
Provincial Health Officer orders still require vaccination for employees in some workplaces, including:
- Maples Adolescent Treatment
- Burnaby Inpatient Assessment Unit
- Forensic Psychiatric Hospital
- Health care settings
- Community health care clinics provided by ministries
Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for all employees covered by a Provincial Health Officer order while the orders remains in effect.
Other locations may still have vaccine requirements or public health orders requiring people entering to be fully vaccinated. Examples include hospitals, urgent and primary care centres, community health care and assisted living.
A complete list of these sites can be found in the follow PHO orders:
- Hospital And Community (Health Care and Other Services) COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measure
- Residential Care COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures
There may also be other settings where vaccination is required by a facility operator or community, and BC Public Service employees who enter those settings in the course of their work are expected to respect and comply with those requirements.
Supervisors and managers must ensure employees being sent to these workplaces meet entry requirements. For employees who were not required to provide proof vaccination after HR Policy 25 was rescinded, this can be done simply by asking staff if they're able to attend the site and not asking for their proof of vaccination.
Yes. There is a Provincial Health Officer Order identifying correctional facilities, including adult and youth custody centres, require all individuals entering those locations to be vaccinated against COVID-19. See Health Care And Other Services COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures. Because of staff interaction with onsite medical care and staff escorting inmates or youth to a hospital, all staff in the centre must be vaccinated.
B.C. Sheriffs are not listed as an occupation in the PHO orders. B.C. Sheriffs must be vaccinated if they attend a care location as defined in the PHO Hospital and Community (Health Care and Other Services) Covid-19 Vaccination Status Information And Preventive Measures Order. This includes, Burnaby Inpatient Assessment Unit (IAU), Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (Colony farm) and any hospital.
All health professionals governed by a regulatory college are required to confirm their vaccination status to their college. This is a separate process from the BC Public Service and ministries should ensure applicants requiring professional college membership for their employment are members in good standing of their regulatory college.
I am about to award a contract that requires the contractor to access staff-only spaces while BC Public Service employees are present. The work commences in early April. I am asking the contractor to sign the final agreement before April 3. Do they have to provide proof of vaccination for themselves or their staff?
No. If the contractor commences work on or after April 3, you do not need to ask them for confirmation of vaccination.
Communicable Disease Prevention Plans are required for all workplaces. Some workplaces with healthcare or congregate living settings have COVID-19 specific plans or exposure control plans. If you have any questions, talk to your supervisor.
We recognize every individual is in a different place in terms of personal comfort with activities such as wearing a mask, physical distancing and their own risk of infection from COVID-19.
Where an employee is expressing concern about being in proximity with an employee returning to the workplace, they should be reminded personal health information, like an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status, is private information and is to be held in confidence.
All workplaces have Communicable Disease Prevention Plans to help reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses.
Supervisors should gently remind employees with concerns they are to treat others with respect and all returning employees should be made to feel welcome.
While no longer required, the BC Public Service continues to strongly encourage employees to remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Public Service Agency's Conflict Management Office assists people leaders in managing workplace conflict by focusing on problem solving, effective communication and preserving relationships.
One of the services provided is Advice and Coaching for Leaders. This is a short series of expert conflict resolution advice and coaching sessions, focusing on how to navigate challenges with conflict more effectively, with the goal of improving communication and working relationships. Sessions help leaders develop and implement a plan to address a situation they are dealing with.
Recorded Learning that is currently available is A Leader's Response to Conflict: Intervening Effectively
To request support from the Conflict Management Office, or to learn more, submit an AskMyHR service request. Select Myself (or) My Team/Organization > Workplace Disputes & Conflicts > Conflict Management Services.
There is no action required by the hiring manager. For specific situations please reach out to your recruitment contact.
Vaccination verification is not required in most cases for employees hired on or after April 3, 2023. However, PHO orders still apply to some roles and the BC Public Service Agency can provide guidance to hiring managers on how to address these circumstances in their recruitment.
Offer letters are required to contain the HR Policy 25 language until April 2. Offer letters created after that date no longer require this wording and it is being removed from the templates on Careers & MyHR.
HR Policy 25 language is being removed from job postings effective April 3 and more information is being shared on Careers & MyHR. However, PHO orders on vaccination still apply to some roles. See Hospital and Community (Health Care And Other Services) Covid-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures for more information. Applicants with questions about specific roles should reach out to the hiring manager identified on the job posting.
The existing process for past work performance checks in the BC Public Service applies.
COVID-19 vaccination is no longer a Term and Condition of Employment as of April 3, 2023. As such, termination for non-compliance is not be a barrier to returning to the BC Public Service.
If you have questions specific to the hiring process, please connect with your recruiter.
Hiring decisions in the BC Public Service are based on merit to ensure they are non-partisan and reflect competence and ability to do the job. Hiring managers need to adhere to the principles of merit when making staffing decisions, along with the requirements of the respective collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment. The appointments of former employees are subject to the same requirements. See Choose your hiring options to learn more about staffing options. Hiring managers intending to hire a former employee can do so using an approved hiring option. This includes auxiliary appointments without a competitive hiring process that are based on the principle of merit.
Why weren't employees brought back on March 10, 2023 when the policy rescindment was announced?
The BC Public Service Agency began engaging with these employees to identify options for them to return to the workplace after March 10. It takes time to work with ministries and employees to complete the steps necessary to facilitate their return. The policy change was announced prior to its effective date to allow time for that process to be completed.
The employment status of individuals whose employment was terminated for non-compliance with HR Policy 25 is not changing because of the policy being rescinded.
Employees whose employment was terminated for non-compliance with the policy are eligible to re-apply for employment with the BC Public Service.
Beginning April 3, 2023.
You may be able to purchase back the time you were on leave as pensionable service by completing a Purchase of Service Application. For more information including purchasing deadlines, refer Purchase of Service on Careers & MyHR
Employees who previously opted for optional life insurance and did not pay to maintain this coverage during their leave need to re-enroll for benefit coverage upon their return to work.
For leaves under 90 days (for all employees), employees must submit an AskMyHR request. Coverage is reinstated with the same coverage and dependents as prior to the start of the leave.
For leaves over 90 days for Bargaining Unit employees:
- Bargaining Unit employees who did not pay to maintain benefits must complete an application form to re-enroll for benefits coverage.
- Optional insurance plans that do not require evidence of insurability may be reinstated without delay.
- Optional employee and spouse life insurance may only be reinstated after an eligible life event or during the next open enrolment period. Employees are required to provide evidence of insurability. If employees return in a new plan year after the open enrolment period has passed, they can make changes to their optional life insurance plans and evidence of insurability is required for optional employee and spouse life insurance.
For excluded employees under the flexible benefits program:
- If employees return in the same plan year, the benefits coverage prior to their leave will be reinstated except for employee and spouse optional life insurance. Employees must wait until an eligible life event or until the next open enrolment period to re-enroll for coverage. Employees are required to provide evidence of insurability.
- If employees return in a new plan year, they can make changes to their options by completing the application form. Employees are required to provide evidence of insurability if they apply for employee or spouse optional life insurance.
The following information on this page remains in effect until April 3, 2023
The purpose of HR policy 25 – COVID-19 vaccination (PDF, 185KB) is to promote the health and safety of employees and others in the BC Public Service workplace through COVID-19 vaccinations.
The BC Public Service is committed to the health, safety and well-being of employees
In accordance with information and data provided by British Columbia’s Provincial Health Office, being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to safeguard employee health and reduce the risk of transmission
On this page
- Key dates for 2021
- Purpose of the new HR policies
- Essential steps for employees
- Essential steps for supervisors
- Supervisors' video resources
- COVID-19 vaccination: contractors and other parties
- Quick links
Key dates for 2021
- October 5: the deputy minister to the Premier announced requirement for employees to provide proof of vaccination
- November 1: PSA policy and guidelines established
- November 8: supervisors begin requesting proof of vaccination status
- November 22: all employees are required to be fully vaccinated
- December 13: contractors and other parties entering public service workplaces (except to access a government service) are required to be fully vaccinated
Purpose of the new HR policies
- Promote the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace through COVID-19 vaccinations
- Define the conditions and expectations for employees, contractors and others in the workplace to disclose their vaccination status and be vaccinated
- Review HR policy 25 – COVID-19 vaccination (PDF, 185KB)
- Review HR policy 04 – Occupational safety and health (PDF, 124KB)
- Align to guidance from the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC
Balance the privacy and human rights issues of employees with the need to maintain safe workplace for everyone
Ensure a respectful work environment. Harassment based on employee vaccination status or accommodation will not be tolerated
Essential steps for employees
Provide proof of vaccination to your supervisor or other designated manager upon request using your digital or paper B.C. Vaccine Card.
If you’re seeking accommodation based on a medical exemption or another protected ground as defined under B.C.'s Human Rights Code, speak with your supervisor or designated manager.
Treat each other with kindness and respect. Harassment based on employee vaccination status or accommodation will not be tolerated.
Essential steps for supervisors or designated managers
Before you begin
- Determine if you've been designated to record employees’ vaccination status by your ministry strategic human resources (SHR) department
- If you've been designated, remember information about an individual’s vaccination status is personal information and must be treated in confidence
- No employee, including supervisors or designated managers, should share vaccination information about an employee outside of the disclosure process
November 1 to November 22, 2021
Step 1: Beginning November 1, 2021 and prior to meeting with your employee, send the email notice template (provided by SHR departments) to employees of the requirement to provide proof of vaccination
Step 2: Beginning November 8, 2021, review and verify the employee's proof of vaccination in-person or via live video conference
Step 3: Record employee's vaccination status or non-disclosure, ensuring confidentiality
Step 4: Send the 'Proof of Vaccination Confirmation Form' to your ministry SHR department
Step 5: Work with the PSA to respond to employees’ request for medical exemption or accommodation under B.C.'s Human Rights Code
after November 22, 2021
Work with the PSA and your ministry SHR department to:
Step 6: Place unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave of absence for non-compliance
Step 7: Work with partially vaccinated employees to identify possible alternative work arrangements
Supervisors' video resources
Subsequent to this video, BC Public Service Agency determined HR policy 04 – Occupational safety and health (PDF, 124KB) – proof of vaccination, extends to the use of charter and hired aircraft. Ministries control the terms of service via contract for charter and hired aircraft, including proof of vaccination for crew, and have exclusive use of the aircraft for staff and ministry purposes.
- Information sheet: Dealing with Vaccine Hesitancy: A Supervisor’s Role (PDF, 240KB)
Accommodations request process
Employees seeking a medical exemption or accommodation must speak with their supervisor or designated manager.
Supervisors and designated managers must seek advice from the PSA through AskMyHR.
Submit an AskMyHR (IDIR restricted) service request using the categories My Team or Organization > COVID-19 > Vaccine Exemption Accommodation Requests.
Effective November 8, 2021, employees may request an accommodation for exemption from the HR policy 25 – COVID-19 vaccination (PDF, 185KB) based on a medical condition or other protected ground as defined under B.C.'s Human Rights Code.
Employees must submit an exemption request in writing to their excluded manager or to an included supervisor who has been delegated this responsibility.
The request must contain complete and accurate information describing the need for accommodation including medical or other documentation, information on relevant limitations, restrictions and their vaccination status.
Employees may be asked to submit their request to their excluded manager or to an included supervisor using the following forms from the PSA:
- Medical Exemption for BC Public Service Employees (PDF, 1.2MB)
- Religious Exemption for BC Public Service Employees (PDF, 2.1MB)
Managers have the right to ask for and collect additional information to assess the merits of an accommodation request and establish reasonable accommodation.
Managers must consult with the PSA to assess whether an accommodation is appropriate and, if so, establish reasonable accommodation. Requests for accommodations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and each case will be carefully assessed on its own merits.
It's important to note that accommodations are not the same as personal preferences or personal choices. Rather, there must be a clear reason (with supporting documentation) under one of the grounds protected under the B.C.'s Human Rights Code as to why an employee cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19. Where necessary, legal and/or medical expertise will be sought to guide accommodation recommendations to managers.
Once a manager or supervisor has submitted an accommodation request through AskMyHR, a representative from the PSA will be in contact as soon as possible to support managers through the process.
Managers are encouraged to read the Managers guide to reasonable accommodation for general guidance on the accommodation process. Bargaining unit employees should also review their applicable collective agreement for any relevant provisions related to accommodation or contact their union/association for support. Excluded employees may choose to reach out to their employee association for support.
Requirements for new employees
Confirmation of full vaccination will be required for any new employees with a start date on or after November 8, 2021.
Effective as of this date, the requirement to be fully vaccinated will be included in all job postings and offer letters.
Confirmation of full vaccination will occur as part of the hiring process or as part of the pre-employment assessment and screening, depending on the type of job posting.
Employees who join the BC Public Service between October 5, 2021 and November 8, 2021 will be expected to become partially vaccinated by November 22, 2021 and fully vaccinated 35 days after their first dose.
COVID-19 vaccination: contractors and other parties
Vaccination requirements outlined in HR Policy 04 – Occupational safety and health are rescinded effective April 3, 2023. This information remains in effect until then.
Learn more about vaccine requirements
Amendments to HR policy 04 – Occupational safety and health (PDF, 124KB) outline the following expectation:
- Effective December 13, 2021, all contractors and other parties entering a staff-only area of an indoor public service workplace while public service staff are present must provide proof of full vaccination for COVID-19 before entering. This does not include clients or the public receiving a direct ministry service
- Organizations, workplaces and staff must confirm proof of full vaccination for any party they're responsible for or otherwise allow, invite or direct into a staff-only area of an indoor workplace. This requirement includes, but is not limited to, contractors, statutory appointees, meeting attendees, interns, students, staff from other employers and visitors
Submit an AskMyHR (IDIR restricted) service request using the categories Myself (or) My Team or Organization > COVID-19.
If you're a B.C. government employee without an IDIR, call the BC Public Service Agency to submit your service request.