Unions challenge Federal government's vaccine mandate

They say the government committed 'abuse of management authority' in the workplace

Unions challenge Federal government's vaccine mandate

The Federal government's mandatory vaccination rule among its employees is facing policy grievances filed by Canadian unions representing different public service sector workers. The government's mandatory policy requires all employees of the core public administration to be fully vaccinated by October 6, 2021, unless receiving accommodations based on religion, medical condition, or prohibited grounder for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Non-compliance among employees would mean Leave Without Pay for them - where they will be asked to not report to work physically or stop working remotely.

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)

However, this mandatory policy has seen some push back from some unions, first from the PSAC, which filed a policy grievance as early as December 2021. This grievance sought to challenge the government's policy on remote workers who remain unvaccinated, arguing that the government committed abuse of management authority as these workers posed "no reasonable threat to the health and safety" of workplaces.

This 2022, PSAC also filed policy grievances on behalf of all members in the federal public service who have been put on leave without pay because of their vaccination status.

"We believe continuing to put unvaccinated employees on leave without pay is a harsh administrative measure that can be considered disciplinary and without just cause," said PSAC in its statement.

To remedy this, the union sought compensation for affected workers who remain unpaid because of their vaccination status.

Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE)

Later on, CAPE said it also filed this May two policy grievances against the Federal government for its policy of COVID-19 vaccination. CAPE, which had about 100 members suspended due to the policy as of May 17, said these workers under Leave Without Pay (LWOP) should be accommodated by being allowed to continue working from home instead of having their salaries cut.

Read more: ‘No more wiggle room!’ Unions welcome vaccine mandate delay

It added that their employer has also failed to fulfill its responsibility of reviewing the vaccine mandate at a minimum every six months.

"We will keep you updated on the progress of those grievances when information is available," said CAPE in its statement.

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC)

Meanwhile, the PIPSC also said last week that they previously filed a policy grievance against the Federal government on May 13, which also targeted its failure to review the mandate on time.

"The employer’s failure to review the policy in the face of loosening COVID-19 restrictions is a flagrant abuse of management authority in the workplace. The Treasury Board has broken their commitment to review and update the policy," said union. "Continuing to keep (or place) unvaccinated employees on LWOP beyond April 6, 2022, is an unjustified and excessive measure in light of the current context."

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