Tuesday, December 14, 2021
The AJC’s Governing Council Representatives and Representation Services Team have been working non-stop over the last few months to support members in addressing concerns with Treasury Board’s Covid-19 vaccination policy, and supporting members in their accommodation requests.
Vaccine Attestation Audit
In the course of this work, it has come to our attention that some Departments may be auditing vaccine attestations and requiring proof of vaccination in a blanket or otherwise overly broad manner. While the employer mentioned in passing to Bargaining Agents, including the AJC, that there would be an audit component earlier this year, we were unaware of its intended scope. We are currently exploring options to address this issue with the employer.
We recommend that if you are asked to provide proof of vaccination status in support of your attestation and you are not comfortable providing it, that you respond with the following:
“The Treasury Board principles for the auditing requirement for the vaccine policy specify that proof of vaccination should only be collected where there is a concern regarding the validity of the document. This policy should be applied reasonably, fairly and in good faith in accordance with article 5.02 of the AJC Collective Agreement. Please provide me with the reasonable grounds supporting management’s concern with the validity of my attestation.”
It is important to note that the auditing principles also indicate that where an employee either fails to produce proof of vaccination or produces proof that is determined not to be credible, that employee will be considered unwilling under the terms of the policy and placed on administrative leave without pay (LWOP) immediately. For this reason, these members should also reach out to their GC Representative for support or fill out an intake form as soon as possible.
Requests for Accommodation
We have had some success in supporting members with requests for accommodation under the vaccination policy, however in our view, the employer has taken a very hard line with these requests. This has been very stressful for some of members, particularly those who are members of vulnerable groups. In some cases, the employer has requested information that we consider to be overly invasive from a privacy perspective, which has compounded the issue.
Return to the Workplace
The AJC is very concerned with the on-going transition to phase 2 of the return to the workplace plans with both the DoJ and PPSC. Phase 2 means that the building occupancy limits will be increased from 20% to 30% with the flexibility to increase further to 50% if needed.
While vaccination levels for the core public administration are now at over 95% fully vaccinated, and an additional 3% confirmed partial vaccinations and the assurances that the transition to phase 2 will be in keeping with the department’s operational needs and balanced with the changing risk to public health, the rapidly spreading new omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is of great concern and it looks likely that a third booster vaccine dose may be needed to maintain adequate levels of protection against the variant. As such, the AJC has requested that DoJ and PPSC halt the planned transition immediately.
Members in Legal Services Units should continue to follow client departments’ guidance on access to the worksites. Please know that the AJC stands ready to intervene with any client departments should that prove necessary.