COVID-19 | COVID-19 Vaccines the Workplace: Employees.

AuthorChalaturnyk, Lauren

With COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs ramping up, employees may be wondering how to deal with vaccines in the workplace.

In a companion article, our firm provides information for employers about COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace. In this article, we address questions employees may have.

Can my employer require that I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, but it is not as simple as your boss telling you to get the vaccine or else you will be fired.

Employers have an obligation under occupational health and safety laws to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. For some worksites, meeting this obligation might include having a vaccination policy in place, for some or all workers.

On the other hand, employers must also respect employee rights under human rights laws (including discrimination and accommodation) and privacy laws (including disclosing medical information). Employers must ensure the policy serves a legitimate health and safety purpose and is proportionate to that purpose. In this context, proportionate means that the vaccine must be the best, and perhaps only, option for addressing the employers' workplace health and safety obligations. For example, requiring vaccination for all workers at a nursing home might be necessary to reduce the threat of COVID-19. On the other hand, widespread vaccination at a small office may not be necessary if other less restrictive measures are sufficient to guard against the risks of infection and spread.

Before implementing a vaccination policy, employers should give all workers advance notice of the policy and provide employees with an opportunity to ask questions. This notice period gives employers time to inform employees and ensure that employees understand the policy. This notice period can also serve as working notice if you do not agree with the new policy and choose to quit your job.

Read our other article for employers for tips on implementing a vaccination policy.

Can my employer ask for proof of vaccination?

Yes, but your employer only needs enough information to know you are vaccinated. For example, your employer cannot ask when or where you were vaccinated, or which vaccine you received. In almost all cases, your employer should not be keeping your vaccination or other medical records on file as this can amount to a fairly serious invasion of privacy.

However, right now, there are talks of vaccine passports or even a registry. We will have to wait to see if the government...

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