Labour Law

BC Labour Relations Board Decision re: Application of Section 54 to Mandatory Vaccination Policy Upheld on Judicial Review

In 2022, the BC Labour Relations Board (“Board”) issued a reconsideration decision of note in BC Rapid Transit Company Ltd. and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 7000, 2022 BCLRB 84 (the “Reconsideration Decision”). The Reconsideration Decision came as a relief to unionized employers in B.C. when it confirmed that section 54 of the Labour Relations Code (the “Code”) did not apply to the introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy.  The Board held that a mandatory vaccination policy was indistinguishable from other types of employer policies to which section 54 has historically not been found to apply. Our prior article summarized this decision.

The Union subsequently petitioned for judicial review of the Reconsideration Decision. Recently, on January 12, 2024, the B.C. Supreme Court issued its decision which upheld the Reconsideration Decision and dismissed the Union’s petition. In the Supreme Court’s decision, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 7000 v. British Columbia (Labour Relations Board), 2024 BCSC 55 the Court held that the Board’s decision was not patently unreasonable (paras. 46 and 52), meaning that its decision was not clearly irrational or fundamentally flawed (para. 37).

The Court’s decision eliminates any lingering uncertainty for employers, who can continue to introduce workplace policies without being required to give 60 days’ advance notice as required under section 54 and engage in adjustment plan discussions with the union during that period.

We will update you if the Union decides to file an appeal of the Court’s decision.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact your Harris lawyer.