Arbitration Decisions on Mandatory Vaccination Policies
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This month has seen arbitral treatment of two mandatory vaccination policies in the context of unionized workplaces. In a grievance brought by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Canada, Local 333 against employer Paragon Protection Ltd., the arbitrator found that the employer’s vaccination policy was reasonable. In a grievance brought by the Power Workers’ Union (the “PWU”) against employer Electrical Safety Authority, the arbitrator found that it was not.

Paragon Protection’s Vaccination Policy

Paragon Protection Ltd. provides security services and employs 4,400 unionized security guards to hundreds of client sites across Ontario. Many of these client sites had vaccination requirements. Paragon gave its employees approximately two months notice that they would be requiring them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees would report their vaccination status by way of a declaration. The policy allowed exemptions for human rights reasons on the basis of creed/religion and health. 
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Free webinar: Dealing with Harassment, Bullying, and Sexual Violence in the WorkplaceOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month. Harassment, bullying, and sexual violence in the workplace continue to persist. Last month, Western University dealt with several sexual assault allegations. What does this mean for employers?

Join SpringLaw’s Flo Vineberg and Emily Siu as they discuss sexual assault, harassment, and violence in the workplace, as well trauma-informed workplace investigations.

Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register: Click here!

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Bill 132 - Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Date
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In response to the provincial government’s March 2015 report entitled  “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment,” the Ontario legislature passed Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan in March 2016, which entered into force in September of that year. This Bill amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), establishing specific requirements with respect to sexualized harassment and violence prevention in Ontario’s workplaces. In turn, employers have since had additional responsibilities to understand, address and eliminate workplace sexual harassment and violence beyond previous measures. This requires sound and updated workplace policies, sufficient workplace training, and additional competencies to ensure compliance with the OHSA via, amongst other things, informed and diligent workplace investigations.
Continue Reading Understanding your employer obligations under Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan

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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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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