COVID-19 vaccinations are underway and employers have questions. Colin Edstrom, workplace lawyer at Pushor Mitchell LLP, says vaccines in the workplace engage different areas of law- privacy, human rights, occupational health & safety (OH&S) and common law or employment/collective agreements.
Common questions and answers (as of June 24, 2021):
Q: Can I make employees get vaccinated?
A: It's unlikely. In certain scenarios, “vaccinate or mask” or testing policies may be implemented. Businesses will need to consider if employees are exposed to vulnerable individuals, such as health care workers.
Q: If employees have been fully vaccinated will they be required to wear masks?
A: Yes, masks are currently mandatory across Canada in workplaces and indoor settings. This will remain in affect until otherwise announced by the government.
Q: What if a vaccinated staff member refuses to wear a mask?
A: Employees must follow OH&S guidelines and masks are currently mandatory.
Q: Do staff need to notify their employer once they've been vaccinated?
A: Yes- If a valid vaccination policy is in place (ie. health care workers). Otherwise, it’s not likely as this information could be viewed as an unreasonable intrusion of privacy.
Q: Can employees refuse to work with unvaccinated employees?
A: Under OH&S legislation, it’s very unlikely. Employees have the right to refuse an unsafe work environment, but if the business is following proper OH&S protocols, it’s not considered unsafe.