Ask the HR Department: Can employers ask staff to disclose their vaccination status?

By Puneet Tiwari, legal counsel and legal claims manager at Peninsula Canada. He has also practiced as an employee-side employment lawyer for several years while also running his own small business.

Some employers may want to know their workers’ vaccination status in order to make health and safety decisions in the workplace or to confirm employees’ entitlement to vaccination leave. However, employers must be careful about what they ask and how they handle this information.

Workers have a right to privacy and vaccination status is considered personal medical information. Every province has its own rules on what employers can ask when it comes to vaccination. In most cases, asking for a medical certificate proving the employee was vaccinated is not allowed because this information is personal and private.

As an alternative, employers can ask employees for a confirmation of a vaccination appointment. This way they can be sure that the leave is not being abused without requiring any personal medical information from their workers.

Additionally, employers can ask employees to disclose if they got vaccinated but only if they want to, on an optional basis. Any personal medical information collected by the employer should be obtained with consent and kept confidential. Employers may not share their workers’ vaccination status with third parties and should keep access to this information limited only to those who must know.

Peninsula is an HR and Health & Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with 24/7 employment advice, updates to legislation changes, HR software, and legal insurance.