More than half of all Canadian adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is not only welcomed news by health officials but also by employers who want to get employees back in the office rather than remote work.
But can employers force their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In short, yes. Employers can technically make employees get the vaccine. Many Canadian employers are only strongly encouraging their employees to get the vaccine. But, if an employer requires the vaccine, they need to show that the policy is in the best interest of the business, employees, and the people they serve. That condition falls in line with most healthcare settings. For example, in 2008, when there was an influenza outbreak, a vaccine was required to fight the disease and put in place by the Minister of Health and Social Services. For employees who refused to get the vaccine, there were consequences.
Workplaces outside of the healthcare system may find it difficult to justify requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees. However, just like many things in society, there are exceptions.
Medical, Religious, and Philosophical Objections
An employee can petition to their employer that for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons that they do not wish to have the COVID-19 vaccine. These rights are protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the employee refuses based on these exceptions, it is the employer’s responsibility to make accommodations for the employee to keep them safe. That could include conditions such as giving that employee a spot in the office where social distancing can be maintained, requiring the employee to wear a mask at all times, or allowing remote work.
If your employer requires you to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and you feel it’s against your rights, you need experienced lawyers on your side. That’s where the team at Guardian Law Group LLP can help. Our Calgary lawyers focus on employment law and have more than 200 years of combined experience. Contact Guardian Law Group LLP today to learn more — (403) 457-7778.