Vaccines and Your Rights at Work

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Q 3: Can my employer require me to be vaccinated?

No one can be physically forced to get a vaccine against their will. However, employers have an obligation to keep workplaces safe and, in the context of a global pandemic, may require employees to be vaccinated to continue to work. 

Given the Government of Canada has recently announced that it will require vaccination for employees in the federal workforce and the federally regulated transportation sector, it is very likely that we will see more employers adopting mandatory vaccination policies. This is especially true as provincial jurisdictions such as Quebec, Ontario and B.C. introduce vaccine certificates or passports to access certain non-essential public services or establishments. 

The duty to accommodate only applies if an employee is unable to get the vaccine for grounds listed in human rights legislation, such as disability or religious belief. If an employee is protected by one of these listed grounds, the employer must work with the employee to identify possible accommodations, which may include allowing the employee to work from home for the foreseeable future. For front line staff, such as corrections officers, possible accommodations will depend on the specific situation and workplace of the employee. 

For employees who have elected not to be vaccinated thus far due to personal beliefs, the situation is much more complicated, since there is no legal obligation for the employer to accommodate the employee. For instance, both The Ontario Human Rights Commission and the British Columbia Human Rights Commissioner have stated that a belief or personal preference against vaccinations or masks is not protected under their respective Human Rights Code.

Even those working remotely are required to be vaccinated. 

 

Excerpted from Your Rights at work: Vaccination and COVID-19, Public Service Alliance of Canada - October 6 2021

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