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?

Workplace harassment and the employer’s duty to correct it
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Occupational health and safety legislation in Ontario protects workers from the risk and harm of harassment at work. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) employers have a legal duty to guard against and correct workplace harassment no matter how small the team. 

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding workplace safety and the employer’s obligations. 

Harassment Can Go By Many Names

Bullying is harassment. Employees sometimes think that the form of harassment they are facing is less serious than the harassment that OHSA targets. But any euphemism for harassment, like bullying or mocking, doesn’t make it less harmful to workplace health and safety. Even lighthearted bullying can count as harassment under OHSA and the employer will have a duty to prevent and act on it. OHSA says that:
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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Employers
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More than 13 million people in Canada are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, yet we’re finding employers are more and more worried about those who still aren’t and don’t plan to be. 

Below, we answer some of the questions we are hearing from employers and set out what we think they should be considering.

1. Can I implement a mandatory vaccination policy in my workplace?

The question is really would it be reasonable to do so? This will depend on the context of the workplace and what other safety measures can be appropriately taken. If there isn’t a high risk of infection in the workplace, it won’t be reasonable. If the work is performed without exposure to risk, for instance by working remotely, then the answer is easier—it’s absolutely unreasonable.
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