Job Consequences for Employees Refusing Mandatory Vaccination
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We are getting lots of questions from employers and employees about vaccination. We addressed many of these questions a few weeks ago in our post Unvaccinated Employees and Mandatory Vaccination. Now that a little bit of time has passed, we are getting more questions about the possible job consequences for employees who are unvaccinated. 

Why is the Employee not Vaccinated?

Before considering what job consequences might be appropriate, it’s crucial for employers to understand the employee’s reasons for being unvaccinated. In rare circumstances, an employee may be entitled to a legitimate exemption from a mandatory vaccination policy. Employees who have legitimate exemptions based on medical or religious grounds will be entitled to protection from discrimination by human rights legislation. While it still may not be appropriate to allow an unvaccinated employee with a legitimate reason for an exemption from attending in person at the office, they will be entitled to accommodation. The range of accommodations is wide, from placing an employee on an unpaid leave of absence to allowing them to continue their work remotely. For more information on legitimate reasons for exemptions and accommodation, see our past post
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IDEL COVID-19 Period Extended to January 1, 2022
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The COVID-19 period for Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) has once again been extended, this time to January 1, 2022. The COVID-19 period for this leave which, at its inauguration was set to end on September 4, 2020, has been extended multiple times – first to January 2, 2021, then to July 3, 2021, then again to September 25, 2021, and now into the new year. 

To Whom Does this Leave Apply?

This IDEL applies to employees who were laid off or had their hours temporarily reduced from March 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022. Employees on this deemed IDEL are exempted, under a provincial regulation that amended certain segments of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), from being deemed to have been terminated. These employees are not owed ESA notice or severance pay. 
Continue Reading IDEL COVID-19 Period Extended to January 1, 2022

proof of vaccination
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On September 1, 2021, the Ontario government announced that, beginning September 22, 2021, Ontario residents will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (meaning that both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine must have been administered at least fourteen days prior), in the form of a printout or PDF receipt of vaccination status, plus photo identification, in order to enter certain non-essential business sites. A vaccine verification app and QR code, to be used by various businesses and organizations, are currently under development. 

Where Proof of Vaccination Will and Will Not be Required in Ontario 

The vaccine certificate program requires that non-essential businesses restrict entry to their premises to those who have valid proof of vaccination, as outlined above. Non-essential businesses include restaurants (indoor dining only); nightclubs (indoor and outdoor areas); theatres, music festivals, concerts, and cinemas; night clubs, strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs; racing venues; casinos and gaming establishments; fitness and recreational centres (except youth recreational sport); and meeting spaces.
Continue Reading Vaccine Passports: Which Businesses will Require Them and Who is Exempt?

Unvaccinated Employees and Mandatory Vaccination
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Both employers and employees are asking questions related to mandatory vaccinations and consequences for employees who don’t get them. Here we run through some of those FAQs!

Q: If vaccinations are deemed to be “mandatory” for workers, are there any legal exemptions?

A: Yes, in some cases there will be legal exceptions to a job requirement that employees be vaccinated. These exceptions come from the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), which prohibits discrimination in employment based on protected grounds. The protected grounds likely to be engaged with respect to a vaccination requirement are disability and creed. If the exemption is based on a medical reason, it will fall under disability. Religious reasons will fall under creed.
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health and safety policies and committee
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Once workers are back together in the workplace, employers will want to ensure that their health and safety policies and programs have been reviewed and account for all the changes and new ways of doing things. Your Joint Health and Safety Committee will play a role! 

What’s a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

In Ontario, one legal requirement of a compliant health and safety program (H&S Program) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is for workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). A JHSC is made up of employees and managers who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues in the workplace. The group is required to have a balanced number of employee representatives and management representatives. Employers must consult with the JHSC about their H&S Program and employees can directly approach their JHSC with any health and safety concerns. 
Continue Reading Time to Reconvene your Joint Health & Safety Committee

mandatory workplace vaccine policies
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Last week, the federal government announced that it will be making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and also for those working in some federally regulated industries related to travel. You can read the news release here.

The government intends to require vaccinations for federal employees by the end of September. It projects that vaccinations will be required in the federally regulated transportation sector (airlines, rail, cruise ships) by the end of October. The requirement will also apply to travellers.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada — which is the union representing the majority of impacted workers —  is apparently on board with this move.
Continue Reading The Start of Mandatory Vaccinations in Canada?

Mandatory COVID-19 Testing
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To enter Canada, all travellers over the age of 5, including those who are fully vaccinated, are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Samples to test for COVID-19 can be collected through a nose swab, throat swab, or saliva sample. Many employers are now mandating, or considering mandating, that employees get COVID-19 testing, either once, or at regular intervals, in order to enter the workplace, or in some cases, to continue working. What does the law have to say about policies addressing mandatory COVID-19 testing?

Can an Employer Legally Require Employees Undergo COVID-19 Testing?

To answer this question, it is critical to consider whether the intrusiveness of the COVID-19 test is reasonable when weighed against the objective of the policy requiring such a test. 
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Is remote work ending?
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Is remote work ending? Many of our employer clients are making plans for a return to in-person work. Likely many employees have mixed feelings about a return to the office. Sure, not wearing real pants has been nice, but many miss the in-person social aspects of work, and would maybe welcome a little bit of separation from their families, annoying cat, or their neighbour’s lawnmower. Today we will discuss some return-to-work issues.

Can I Require My Employees to Return to Work?

Employers can definitely tell their employees that they are required to return to the office. How strong a stance employers want to take on this will depend and some flexibility will likely be warranted. 
Continue Reading The End of Remote Work?