Many new employment issues have arisen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. One of the most prevalent issues is whether employers can require that employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or can ask employees for proof of vaccination status. Unfortunately, despite being almost 18 months into the pandemic, those questions remain largely unanswered.
We expect, however, that many legal challenges will arise in the next few months against the implementation of such policies. Given the opportunities for alternative safety measures to protect employees (such as work from home policies and other safety measures implemented in the workplace), it is unlikely that mandatory vaccination policies will be found to be legally enforceable in each and every workplace. That said, that may not be the case when alternative safety measures are not as readily available or in certain professions, such as for healthcare workers.
Employers who are considering implementing a mandatory vaccine policy should consult a lawyer prior to doing so. They should also be mindful of avoiding discriminatory practices and should, in the face of a possible discrimination claim, ensure that the employee who is provided with reasonable accommodations. Bradbury Sippel can help guide employers through the process of implementing new policies and procedures in the workplace and can assist employees in understanding whether or not policies implemented by their employers are valid, enforceable and non-discriminatory.
The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner has provided a Policy Guidance to help deal with the issue of vaccinations and the workplace. The only significant guidance provided by WorkSafe BC is found here.
Travis Sippel is one of the leading employment lawyers on Vancouver Island. He works with both employees and employers on a variety of employment matters, including employment contracts, workplace policies and procedures, wrongful terminations, constructive dismissal claims, workplace investigations and human rights complaints.
Travis Sippel can be contacted by phone at 1-250-824-2423 or via email at email@example.com.