Updated April 20, 2022
To help our members navigate the increasing confusion and misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for performers, UBCP/ACTRA has outlined the following FAQs concerning employment. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Union if you have any questions.
1. Can an employer require that I be vaccinated?
It depends. Any employer wishing to implement a mandatory vaccination and/or mandatory vaccination disclosure policy in British Columbia (BC) will need to ensure that their policy follows applicable provincial human rights and privacy laws.
The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner in BC released policy guidelines called “A Human Rights Approach to Proof of Vaccination During the COVID-19 Pandemic” which outlines individual rights and the individual and collective rights to health and safety. You can read the policy guidelines here.
The employer will need to establish that their policy is necessary to ensure a health and safety plan that is both reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances. For example, the employer’s policy may provide for a reduced testing schedule for those individuals who are vaccinated. However, asking for your vaccination status, just for the sake of asking, is not acceptable.
There may be other circumstances due to a specific location that could require performers to be vaccinated (see question 5 for details).
The Union will monitor the implementation of any such policies to ensure they are both compliant with provincial laws and reasonable in their application to our members.
2. Can an employer or casting ask for my vaccination status before an audition or booking?
No. A production cannot ask for an individual’s vaccination status in the pre-employment stage, as it raises both privacy and human rights concerns. A performer must be engaged prior to being required or asked to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status.
The producer should advise potential cast of any vaccination requirements in their breakdowns or while determining the performer’s availability, so individuals can decide if they want to be considered for that production. The Union has notified producers to advise of any updates or changes to their current COVID-19 safety protocols and any vaccination requirements before they are implemented.
3. Can my agent request my vaccination status?
Your vaccination status is considered private, personal medical information under the law (Personal Information Protection Act, PIPA). Productions or casting should not request this information from agents. If the situation warrants disclosure of one’s vaccination status, this information should only be disclosed by the performer (once engaged) to a specific representative of the production who will ensure that the collection, storage and/or destruction complies with PIPA.
4. What should I do if my agent, casting or an employer asks me for my vaccination status before I’m hired?
Contact the union representative for the specific production at 604-689-0727 or email email@example.com and include the name of the production.
5. Am I required to show proof of vaccination if I need to work on sets that are in a public place and are included in a PHO mandatory vaccination order?
No. Proof of vaccination does not apply to employees working on those sites or businesses identified in the PHO order which includes film industry workers when working on these locations. However, some filming locations may have a contractual requirement that individuals be vaccinated in order to access the location. In such cases, individuals should be notified in advance of booking.
6. Can certain filming locations require me to be vaccinated?
Yes, individual businesses and event organizers may continue to require proof of vaccination for entry to their premises.
7. What happens if I have a legitimate medical reason for not getting vaccinated?
If an employee cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or is exempted under human rights law, the employer will be required to implement reasonable accommodation to the point of undue hardship. Accommodations could include more frequent testing and/or increased protocols or modifying work processes for exempt workers.
8. If Covid-19 vaccinations are required in order to work on some productions and I have an adverse reaction to the vaccinations, can I file a WorksafeBC claim?
Possibly. If you have an adverse reaction to a work-related COVID-19 vaccination (including subsequent booster doses), please read WCB’s Claims-related FAQs on Vaccinations to help you determine if a claim should be submitted. To submit a claim, see How Workers Report a Workplace Injury or Disease.