British Columbian Government Forces Unvaccinated Mothers to Repay $50,000 Maternity Leave Benefits

The government of British Columbia, Canada plans to make mothers who work in the public sector who refuse vaccinations responsible for paying back their maternity leave.

According to the BC government, birth mothers who work for the British Columbia Public Service are entitled to 17 weeks of paid leave and may also qualify for the federal government’s Employment Insurance (EI) maternity benefit and the province’s own maternity leave allowance.

But now, those working in the BC Public Service who are pregnant and have not been completely vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to pay back their whole maternity leave top-up benefit and may also lose their jobs.

A statement from the provincial government told My PG Now: “The vaccination policy stipulates that BC Public Service employees who do not receive two doses of vaccination against COVID-19, or refuse to disclose their vaccination status, and do not have an approved exemption request, are to be placed on a leave without pay for a period of at least three months, after which they may be terminated.”

More from My PG Now:

  • If a mother on maternity leave is unvaccinated and is denied an exemption, they are in a position to miss their return to work date and be liable to have to pay back the entirety of the top-up benefit, from $20,000 all the way up to $50,000 in some cases. Or, they can prove vaccination and return to work without a problem.

When signing the contract agreeing to take this benefit, these mothers had no idea that the Government’s policies and terms of their employment could change while on leave.

All of the women requested that their identities remain anonymous, as they all have expressed fears for their jobs and ability to fairly navigate their situations if they are named or are identifiable.

One mother says, “we did this in good faith. We weren’t trying to get money out of them, we had no idea this could happen.”

According to her, a group of around 30 mothers from all parts of the province, working in the BC Public Service has formed, all in similar situations with their own maternity leaves.

We have spoken with seven.

“Myself and women that I know got jobs in government because that was one of your perks,” a second mother said, regarding the maternity leave benefits and policy.

Another mother in this situation has already been denied the exemption, terminated, and has been served a $22,000 repayment.

She says the repayment would be made in multiple multi-thousand dollar payments, or one lump sum. Either way, it is due back within one year.

The family is currently in the process of grieving the repayment, but if that grievance is denied, she says so too is the option for staggered repayments. She has no idea how long the process will be.

“I can’t do it,” she said. “We have a newborn and are trying to pay our mortgage and other bills.”

A common fear among these young families. “It is a huge chunk of change,” one said, looking at $30,000 potentially owed back.

“We have a mortgage and two children. With the crazy economy and inflation, to have the little savings you have ripped out of your hand just seems crazy.”

Read more here.

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Thanks for sharing!