OHS Canada Magazine

Are employees required to disclose their vaccination status?

There is currently no legislation requiring anyone to get vaccinated


Requiring too much personal health information could result in a breach of privacy, says Puneet Tiwari, legal counsel at Peninsula Canada. (insta_photos/Adobe Stock)

Now that workers across Canada are receiving vaccines against COVID-19, some might be wondering how to approach this subject in their workplace.

Getting the vaccine is a personal health decision, so do workers have to disclose this information to their employer?

“There is currently no legislation requiring workers to notify their employers when they have received the vaccine,” saidPuneet Tiwari, legal counsel at HR consulting firm Peninsula Canada. “However, providing your employer with this information can be helpful to them in making health and safety decisions for the workplace.”

Can employers ask workers if they got the vaccine?

Employers may require workers to disclose whether they’ve received the vaccine, similarly to how they can ask for other medical evidence such as sick notes, according to Tiwari.

Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace and the vaccination status of workers can be important information to have in order to do this.

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However, employers need to be careful, he said.

“It matters how much information the employer requires, as too much personal health information could result in a breach of privacy. Employers are advised to limit questions to whether the employee has received a vaccine, and which brand they received. The latter may be important in the future if certain vaccines turn out to be effective only for a limited time,” said Tiwari.

“This requirement should be clearly stated in a policy that explains what type of supporting documentation is required (for example: a document proving vaccination status).”

Can employers share workers’ vaccination information?

Co-workers and other visitors to the business might be concerned about their safety and ask whether all or specific workers on shift have been vaccinated.

“Employers do not have the right to disclose their workers’ personal health information as it is private, and they have a duty to protect the confidentiality of workers’ medical records. This sensitive information may only be shared with others where it pertains to the employer’s duty to accommodate their employee,” said Tiwari.

To assure co-workers and visitors of their safety, employers can confirm that the employee in question has been screened according to health and safety guidelines and is able to work.

What if an employee does not get vaccinated?

If the employer asks a worker if they’ve received the vaccine and they haven’t, the employer must be careful not to discriminate against them. There is currently no legislation requiring anyone to get vaccinated, therefore vaccination is not mandatory.

Employers may be able to justify vaccination as a requirement for employees depending on the type of work they do. However, employers are advised to have a company policy on vaccinations explaining health and safety concerns and why vaccination might be a necessary condition of employment.

In some cases, workers may not be able to get vaccinated because of a health condition, disability, or due to their religious beliefs. Disability and creed are grounds protected under human rights legislation.

Employers cannot discriminate against, discipline or terminate workers for refusing to get a vaccine for these reasons. Doing so may open their business to risks of discrimination, human rights or wrongful dismissal claims. The employer should explore accommodating the employee in these circumstances.

Kristina Vassilieva is an HR writer for Peninsula Canada in Toronto.


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10 Comments » for Are employees required to disclose their vaccination status?
  1. Mark Davenport says:

    With people preparing to go back to work and face the probability of their employer demanding them to get the vaccine, if there are health problems due to the vaccine, is the employer then liable for any damages?

    Are employers opening themselves up to litigation for those who had decided to not get the vaccine due to the risks and that it is still in trials and are forced to get it to remain employed?

    Since pharma has no liability, does this liability shift to who is mandating it?

    • CH says:

      Serve your employer with a notice of liability and have them sign it if they demand you get a vaccine. There is one here I plan to use if I’m put in that situation. Action4Canada.com

  2. Ann Cardinal says:

    How do you protect yourself against unvaccinated co-workers? What are my rights in the work place in a non-unionized work place? Does health and safety laws not used in these cases?

    • your body your choice says:

      can you elaborate on that? isn’t getting the vaccine for YOUR protection? how does other’s vaccination affect YOUR body?

      do you understand what you’re saying?

    • Canadian Patriot says:

      You should be asking “How can Un-vaccinated employee’s protect themselves from the Vaccinated employees?” If you are vaccinated you must be protected,,, isn’t that why you got jabbed in the first place?

    • John H says:

      How do you protect yourself from the vaccinated workers. Since the ‘vaccine’ mRNA technology only resolves issue with lung infection, but does not affect the upper respiratory tract. Meaning the vaccinated are still easily infected, carry just as high viral loads as unvaccinated, have been proven by scientists as incubators for viral mutations, since their incomplete-vaccines allow viruses to survive, and grow greater resistance to body immunity, and the vaccinated are less likely to be regularly tested for infection, are often allowed to roam around without masks, are not even aware often that they are carriers, much like they asymptomatic “Typhoid Mary”.

  3. Can I decline answering vaccination status question from my employer?
    They say they require info due to different requirements for unvaccinated and vaccinated employees regarding sick leave and return to work policy.

  4. nate says:

    This is taken from the Canadian Encyclopedia:
    “Throughout Canada’s history, there have been many examples of Black people being segregated, excluded from, or denied equal access to opportunities and services such as education, employment, housing, transportation, immigration, health care and commercial establishments. The racial segregation of Black people in Canada was historically enforced through laws, court decisions and social norms.”

    I would like to now replace a few words to modernize this script and see if it still makes sense:

    “Throughout Canada, there have been many examples of unvaccinated people being segregated, excluded from, or denied equal access to opportunities and services such as education, employment, housing, transportation, immigration, health care and commercial establishments. The medical segregation of unvaccinated people in Canada is currently enforced through laws, court decisions and social norms.”

    And I was told segregation was abolished….lol.

  5. fos says:

    its a therapy not a vaccine its right in the patent lets starts form the basic facts..

  6. xo says:

    Am I allowed to decline proof of vaccine to my employer as I feel it’s violating my rights?

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