As Ontario struggles with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, employers must ensure their workplace policies are updated to reflect the changing nature of the pandemic. Policies enacted in 2020, or even just a few months ago, may no longer reflect current public health guidance. As such, in this article, we look at three recent pandemic-related developments and assess how they will impact Ontario employers.
Health and Safety
During the winter months, people will be spending more time indoors and gathering during the holiday season. In understanding of this, the Government of Ontario is expanding COVID-19 testing efforts, such as increasing convenience and the number of testing locations.
Many employers have introduced mandatory COVID vaccine policies that will take effect this month. I am being asked two main questions in relation to the implementation of this kind of policy. The first issue is whether to grant exemptions to the policy for religious or medical reasons. An employer has an obligation to consider the request but can request additional information in connection with the request. The onus is on the employee to show the reason for not getting vaccinated is a sincerely, freely and deeply held belief that is integrally linked to a person’s identity, self-definition and fulfilment.