Adverse Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccinations May Be Compensable

As more of the population becomes vaccinated against COVID-19, an issue to be considered is whether a worker or employee who has an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is entitled to any compensation under BC workers’ compensation benefits (WorkSafeBC).

WorkSafeBC has recently commented on this topic stating that if a worker experiences an adverse reaction, injury or death from the COVID-19 vaccination, it may be compensable where the worker can show that injury or death arose in the course of their employment.

In considering this issue, WorkSafe BC will ask the following questions:

A. Was the COVID-19 vaccination a requirement of employment?

First, WorkSafeBC will consider whether the COVID-19 vaccination was a requirement of the worker’s employment.

It will be considered a requirement if one of the following criteria are met:

  1. The vaccination was required as a condition of employment or a continued condition of employment.
  2. The vaccination was not required; however, the worker was advised that if there was an outbreak at the employer’s premises then the worker would not be permitted to work.
  3. The worker is convinced it was necessary to receive the vaccination, despite objective evidence from the employer that the vaccination was not compulsory. In this case, if the worker contends the vaccination was mandatory then WorkSafe BC will investigate the individual merits and circumstances regarding why the worker considered the vaccination to be a requirement of their employment.

B. When could an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine be work-related?

If WorkSafeBC determines that the vaccination was a requirement of the worker’s employment, or that the worker was convinced it was necessary, then any injury or death resulting from the vaccination may be considered to arise out of or in the course of the worker’s employment and could be compensable. This determination will be dependent on the specific merits and justice of each case.

It is important to note that WorkSafeBC does not comment on whether employers can require their employees and workers to be vaccinated. As this is a developing area and topic, employers should seek legal advice before implementing any vaccination policies.

If you have any questions about vaccinations and the workplace, please contact one of the members of our Labour & Employment Team.