Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the National Research Council

 

Policy instrument information

Document type
Policy
Area of management
Labour relations
 
Original date of issue
2021-Nov-8
Status
Approved 2021-Oct-25
Effective date
2021-Nov-8
Review frequency
Every 6 months as required
   

Authority

The president has authorized this directive.

Sponsor

Vice-president, Human Resources Branch.

Enquiries

Direct any questions concerning this directive and any suggestions for future amendments to NRC.Vaccines-Vaccins.CNRC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

Table of contents

1. Effective date of this policy

1.1 This policy takes effect on November 8, 2021.

2. Authorities

2.1 This policy is issued pursuant to section 8 of the National Research Council Act.

2.2 The president has sub-delegated authority under this policy to the vice-president, Human Resources to:

  • 2.2.1 Make technical amendments to this policy and related instruments.
  • 2.2.2 Determine the effective dates of related instruments.
  • 2.2.3 Issue, amend or repeal standards associated with this policy provided they are consistent with its overall intent and do not have financial implications.
  • 2.2.4 Provide for any oversight, systems, information requirements, or compliance and reporting required.
  • 2.2.5 Ensure any appropriate action is taken to address non-compliance issues.
  • 2.2.6 Oversee other measures required to assess whether requirements of this policy or its supporting instruments have been met.

3. Objectives and expected results

3.1 The objectives of this policy are as follows:

  • 3.1.1 To take every precaution reasonable, in the circumstances, for the protection of the health and safety of employees. Vaccination is a key element in the protection of employees against COVID-19.
  • 3.1.2 To improve the vaccination rate across Canada of employees in the National Research Council through COVID-19 vaccination.
  • 3.1.3 Given that operational requirements may include ad hoc onsite presence, all employees, including those working remotely and teleworking must be fully vaccinated to protect themselves, colleagues, and clients from COVID-19.

3.2 The expected results of this policy are as follows:

  • 3.2.1 All employees of the National Research Council are fully vaccinated unless accommodated based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground for discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • 3.2.2 Implementation of this policy is monitored and reported on as required.
  • 3.2.3 Personal information is only created, collected, retained, used, disclosed, and disposed of in a manner that respects the provisions of the Privacy Act and other applicable legislation.

4. Requirements

Vice-president, Human Resources

4.1 The vice-president, Human Resources is responsible for the following:

Implementation

  • 4.1.1 Prescribing any oversight, systems, information requirements, or reporting for the purpose of implementing this policy; and
  • 4.1.2 Reviewing the need for this policy and the policy contents, at a minimum every 6 months, and reporting the results to the president of National Research Council.
  • 4.1.3 Ensuring the appropriate collection, storage, and protection of data and information regarding vaccine attestations, testing, and testing results in the National Research Council Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (NRC-VATS) or any other appropriate system.
  • 4.1.4 Providing training related to the requirements set out for employees pursuant to this policy and tracking records of attendance when applicable.
  • 4.1.5 Collecting and storing attestation and consent forms once signed for those unable to use the NRC-VATS) or other applicable system.
  • 4.1.6 Ensuring audits are conducted on attestations and consent forms.

Duty to accommodate

4.1.7 Implementing this policy in adherence with the duty to accommodate all prohibited grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act for persons unable to be fully vaccinated by:

  • 4.1.7.1 Ensuring that employees are informed of:
    • their right to accommodation
    • procedures to be followed when seeking accommodation
    • the employee's responsibilities when seeking accommodation
    • any mandatory testing that needs to be undertaken as accommodation measures, where applicable, and
    • the National Research Council's approach to accommodation and privacy obligations to reassure employees that the workplace will be safe
  • 4.1.7.2 Ensuring that directors and senior executives are informed of their responsibilities and obligations regarding:
    • addressing requests for accommodation on a case-by case basis, in a timely manner, and up to the point of undue hardship for employees who are unable to be fully vaccinated based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which could also include employees who are partially vaccinated
    • the fulfilment of mandatory testing requirements as accommodation measures, where applicable, and
    • the relevant confidentiality and privacy considerations.
  • 4.1.7.3 Implementing measures for employees unwilling to disclose their vaccination status, or who choose not to be fully vaccinated, without an approved accommodation.

Respectful workplace

4.1.8 Ensuring a respectful, productive, inclusive, and equitable environment, including:

  • 4.1.8.1 Ensuring that employees are aware that harassment or other prohibited conduct directed toward an individual for any reason, including based on their vaccination status, will not be tolerated.

Privacy

4.1.9 Working in collaboration with the National Research Council Officials with delegated responsibilities pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act, to ensure that in the implementation of this policy personal information is collected and managed in accordance with the Privacy Act, Privacy Regulations, and supporting policy instruments, including:

  • 4.1.9.1 Ensuring that the National Research Council's privacy breach plans and procedures are up to date;
  • 4.1.9.2 Ensuring that privacy breach plans and procedures are readily available to employees and managers; and
  • 4.1.9.3 Ensuring that privacy breach plans include:
    • immediate containment measures in the event of a privacy breach, and
    • contact information for the relevant officials.

Senior executives and directors

4.2 Senior executives and directors are responsible for:

  • 4.2.1 Ensuring that employees who report directly or indirectly to them know how to enter their vaccine attestations and any associated data or information in any system prescribed by the vice-president, Human Resources (i.e., the NRC-VATS);
  • 4.2.2 Reviewing vaccine attestations and any associated data or information entered by employees who report directly or indirectly to them, for the purpose of validating that the information complies with the requirements;
  • 4.2.3 Responding to employees' requests for accommodation under the duty to accommodate, as outlined above 4.1.7, including:
    • informing the employee of their obligations
    • gathering the relevant information
    • making decisions as to whether the duty to accommodate applies
    • implementing the decision by identifying the appropriate accommodation measures, which may include mandatory testing, and
    • documenting the process
  • 4.2.4 Working with the National Research Council Officials with delegated responsibilities pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act to ensure that privacy principles and practices are respected in the administration of this policy by:
    • 4.2.4.1 Ensuring that personal information is collected, managed and safeguarded in accordance with relevant policies, procedures and guidelines; and,
    • 4.2.4.2 Immediately reporting any inappropriate disclosure or loss of personal information to designated officials.
  • 4.2.5 Maintaining a respectful, productive, inclusive, and equitable environment throughout their respective organizations.

Employees

4.3 Employees are responsible for:

  • 4.3.1 Providing truthful information for the implementation of all aspects of this policy and any procedures associated with this policy. Failure to do so could constitute a breach of the National Research Council's Code of Conduct including Chapter II of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and may result in disciplinary action.
  • 4.3.2 Disclosing their vaccination and testing status accurately as required by this policy.
  • 4.3.3 Informing their director or senior executive of their need for accommodation based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act at the earliest opportunity or by the attestation deadline, if possible.
  • 4.3.4 Providing their director or senior executive with complete and accurate information necessary to identify appropriate accommodation, including information on relevant limitations, restrictions, and if they are partially vaccinated.
  • 4.3.5 Cooperating and collaborating in good faith with the National Research Council to identify one or more means to accommodate such needs, which may include mandatory testing, and the reporting of the results, per Health Canada's testing protocol.
  • 4.3.6 Notifying their director or senior executive if their accommodation needs change.
  • 4.3.7 Informing themselves of and adhering to the requirements of the Privacy Act, as well as the Policy on Privacy Protection and related instruments and other applicable legislation.
  • 4.3.8 Attending training as required.
  • 4.3.9 Refraining from directing harassment or any other prohibited conduct toward an individual for any reason, including their vaccination status or accommodation measures.

5. Application

5.1 This policy applies to all employees as defined in Appendix A. The principles of this policy apply equally to those employees on secondment or interchange and non-salaried workers (volunteer visitors and independent visitors).

  • 5.1.1 Employees must comply with this policy regardless of whether they work on site, remotely, or telework.

5.2 This policy does not apply to tenants, collaborators, contractors, clients, and agency personnel.

6. Consequences of non-compliance

6.1 For employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status, as per Appendix A, the National Research Council will implement the following measures:

  • 6.1.1 Within two (2) weeks of the attestation deadline, require employees to attend an online training session on COVID-19 vaccination;
  • 6.1.2 At two (2) weeks after the attestation deadline:
    • 6.1.2.1 Restrict employees' access to the workplace, offsite visits, business travel, and conferences;
    • 6.1.2.2 Place employees on administrative Leave Without Pay advising them not to report to work, or to stop working remotely, and taking the required administrative action to put them on Leave Without Pay;

6.2 For employees who are partially vaccinated as per Appendix A:

  • 6.2.1 Partially vaccinated employees will be placed on Leave Without Pay if they have not received their second dose by ten (10) weeks after their first dose;
  • 6.2.2 Employees who have been placed on Leave Without Pay and who become partially vaccinated will resume work and have their pay reinstated;
  • 6.2.3 Partially vaccinated employees may be subject to temporary measures for the period of time for which they remain partially vaccinated.

6.3 "Other Leave With Pay (699)", is not available for employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated or unwilling to disclose their vaccination status.

6.4 The vice-president, Human Resources may direct directors and senior executives to take appropriate action to address non-compliance issues or may impose any other measures deemed appropriate to assess whether requirements of this policy or its supporting instruments and mandatory procedures have been met.

6.5 The costs of measures that may arise because of errors or inappropriate application of this policy, associated instruments, and mandatory procedures, will be paid by the National Research Council, in accordance with legislative requirements.

6.6 These measures may include recommendations by the vice-president Human Resources to the president to add conditions to, modify, or revoke the authority of directors and senior executives including any measures allowed by the Financial Administration Act determined to be appropriate.

7. References

Legislation

Related policy instruments

Additional information

8. Enquiries

8.1 Employees should direct enquiries to their director or senior executive.

8.2 Human resources advisors should direct enquiries about this policy to Labour Relations.

Appendix A: Definitions

Attestation deadline (date limite de présentation de l'attestation)
The date by which an employee's attestations must be entered in the NRC-VATS, or provided to their director or senior executive if the employee does not have access to the NRC-VATS:
  • November 30, 2021, including for employees on "Other Leave With Pay (699)" for reasons related to the pandemic; or
  • Two (2) weeks after return from leave if the return from leave is after November 17, 2021; or
  • Two (2) weeks after the date on which an employee has been informed of their director's or senior executive's decision that the duty to accommodate does not apply; or
  • For employees who, for reasons related to their current position, are unable to attest to their vaccination status, or do not have access to vaccines for the period extending from November 8 to 30, 2021, the attestation deadline is two (2) weeks from the date they have access to each, as determined by their director or senior executive, and notwithstanding their leave status
Clinical trial participants – Not fully vaccinated (as of November 8, 2021) (participants aux essais cliniques – pas entièrement vaccinés (à partir du 8 novembre 2021))
Employees who are participating, or have participated, in a Health Canada-authorized COVID-19 vaccination study should be considered to be not fully vaccinated. Employees should use the accommodation process until such time that either:
  • the study is completed, Health Canada authorizes the COVID-19 vaccine, and the employee can disclose that they are fully vaccinated as per this policy.
  • the employee withdraws from the study or is informed they received a placebo, or Health Canada declines authorization of the study vaccine. At that time, the employee is expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with Health Canada-authorized vaccine as per the Public Health Agency of Canada or the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations. The employee will be given 4 weeks from any of the preceding events occurring to begin their COVID-19 vaccine series unless they are eligible for a different accommodation. When they complete their primary vaccination, they should disclose this information as per this policy and will then be considered fully vaccinated and will no longer require accommodation.
  • there may be additional exceptions that would need to be addressed on an individual basis (e.g., participants in clinical trials outside of Canada, employees who received non-Health Canada-approved vaccines outside of work-related postings).

Definition will be adjusted if and as required when the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) makes any future recommendations.

Employees (employés)

For the purpose of this policy, "employees" is used throughout to simplify the text.

It means employees of the National Research Council and includes the following regardless of whether they work on site or remotely or telework (full-time or part-time):

  • Continuing employees
  • Term and short-term employees

For the purpose of this policy, it also includes:

  • supplementary workers
  • students
  • non-salaried workers (volunteer visitors and independent visitors, including visiting scientists and post-doctoral fellows working in facilities of the National Research Council)
  • the principles of this policy are applicable to those on Secondment or Interchange

These individuals are not entitled to certain benefits explained in this policy (e.g., leave provisions). Such benefits, and any other non-applicable terms, are not applicable to these individuals.

Unvaccinated employees are grouped in three (3) categories

Partially vaccinated employees (employés partiellement vaccinés)
For the purpose of this policy "partially vaccinated employees" means employees who have received one (1) dose of a Health Canada-authorized vaccine, but who have not received a full vaccination series, and do not meet the definition of fully vaccinated below.
Employees unable to be fully vaccinated (employés qui ne peuvent pas être entièrement vaccinés)
For the purpose of this policy "employees unable to be fully vaccinated" means employees that cannot be fully vaccinated due to a certified medical contraindication, religion, or any other prohibited ground of discrimination as defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated (employés qui refusent d'être entièrement vaccinés)
For the purpose of this policy "employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated" means employees refusing to disclose their vaccination status (whether they are fully vaccinated or not), employees for whom accommodations for a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination is not granted and where the employees are still unwilling to be vaccinated, and employees who have attested that they are unvaccinated.
Full Implementation Date (date de mise en œuvre complète)
The date by which the testing regime will be in place for employees unable to be vaccinated, and at which consequences will begin to apply to those employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated.
Fully Vaccinated - COVID-19 (employees vaccinated in Canada as of November 8, 2021) (entièrement vacciné - COVID-19 (employés vaccinés au Canada à partir du 8 novembre 2021))
People are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have either:
  • received both doses of a Health Canada authorized vaccine that requires 2 doses to complete the vaccination series: Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine, or AstraZeneca Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine
  • received mixed dose vaccination series are accepted as long as it aligns with NACI recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines
  • received 1 dose of a Health Canada authorized vaccine that only requires 1 dose to complete the vaccination serie: Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine
  • for current residents of Quebec only, have had a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection followed by at least 1 dose of a Health Canada authorized COVID-19 vaccine

Definition will be adjusted if and as required when the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) makes any future recommendations.

Fully Vaccinated - COVID-19 (employees vaccinated outside of Canada as of November 8, 2021) (entièrement vacciné - COVID-19 (employés vaccinés à l'extérieur Canada à partir du 8 novembre 2021))

People are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have either:

  • received 1 additional dose of an mRNA vaccine at least 28 days after a complete or incomplete course/series of a non-Health Canada-authorized vaccine (e.g., may be applicable for public servants who were posted abroad who received a non-Health Canada-authorized vaccination and have now returned to Canada).
  • met the definition for fully vaccinated in the jurisdiction in which they currently reside (i.e., for public servants posted abroad who have not yet returned to Canada).
  • received 3 doses of any COVID-19 vaccine regardless if they are Health Canada-authorized vaccines or non-Health Canada-authorized vaccines.

Definition will be adjusted if and as required when the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) makes any future recommendations.

National Research Council Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (NRC-VATS) (système de suivi des attestations de vaccination du Conseil national de recherches Canada – SSAV-CNRC)

The NRC-VATS is a user-friendly web based application based on a similar Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Application. The NRC-VATS will allow employees to attest to the status of their COVID-19 vaccinations and store the attestations.

The NRC-VATS will centrally store the attestations and provide access to aggregated data to the National Research Council, in compliance with the Privacy Act and the security requirements. Similarly, senior executives and directors will have access to aggregated data from their direct and indirect reports.

Senior executives (les membres de la haute direction)

Under this policy "senior executives" includes those executives with level 1, 2 or 3 delegated authority under the Human Resources delegation instrument, including the president, vice presidents, and directors general.

Vaccination (vaccination)
Vaccination is the term used for receiving a vaccine, usually through an injection.
Vaccine (vaccin)
A vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the immune system and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.
Workplace (lieu de travail)
Means any place where an employee is engaged in work for the National Research Council, as per the Canada Labour Code, Part II. For the purpose of this policy, this includes employees working on site, remotely, and teleworking (full time or part time).