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The COVID-19 vaccine has become widely available with approximately 44% of eligible Ontarians now fully vaccinated. The increase in vaccination leads to more questions surrounding the enforceability of vaccination policies in the workplace.

This blog will serve as an update to our previous blog post linked here to answer your questions in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine and its impact on your work.

Please note that the content in this blog is current as of the date this blog was published.

Can my employer mandate vaccination as a requirement to come to work?

While there is still no definitive yes or no answer to this question, there is an increasing number of workplaces that are implementing vaccination policies. As of now, it appears that vaccination policies may be enforceable if they take into account the following considerations:

1. Reasonableness

  • In previous months, when vaccinations were not as readily available, it was not as reasonable to require employees to be vaccinated. However, now that there is more availability, the request may be deemed more reasonable.
  • If the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 in the workplace can be controlled through alternate methods, it may not be acceptable to require vaccination.
  • Alternatively, if employees are in close contact with one another, customers, vulnerable persons, or are located in a “hot spot” it may be a reasonable requirement in order to maintain a safe workplace.

2. Human rights

  • If you have a human rights basis for refusing the vaccine (i.e., disability, religion, etc.), your employer is required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate you to the point of undue hardship.

3. Privacy

  • Your employer may ask for proof of vaccination status, however, they should consider making efforts to protect employee privacy by doing the following:
    • Requesting the minimum amount of information necessary,
    • Clearly explaining how the information will be utilized,
    • Protecting the information, and
    • Destroying the collected information in a reasonable amount of time.

What do I do if I do not want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but my workplace requires vaccination?

If you have not been vaccinated due to religious, medical, or other human rights reasons, you should disclose this to your employer and request an accommodation (i.e., additional personal protective equipment (“PPE”) or the ability to work in a location that is not a confined space). If your employer fails to accommodate your request, you may proceed with a claim to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

If you have not been vaccinated for reasons outside of human rights grounds, your employer may require that you work remotely, or they may deem it a necessary part of your job (for instance, if you are a long-term care worker in Ontario).

Contact Sultan Lawyers in Toronto for Concerns About Vaccinations in the Workplace

In the event that you are disciplined, laid off, or your employment is terminated due to your refusal to disclose your vaccination status to your employer, you may be able to challenge your employer’s decision. We encourage you to contact, Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, for a free call back or flat-rate consultation to better understand your rights and options available to you. Please contact us by telephone at 416-214-5111 or here.

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