Ask the HR Department: What if someone on my staff doesn’t want the vaccine?

Vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory in Canada, therefore, employers cannot force their workers to get the vaccine. It’s important to consider that some workers may not be able to get the vaccine due to medical reasons, religious beliefs, or a disability. Discriminating against an unvaccinated worker for any of these reasons could result in a human rights claim for the business.

However, employers can strongly encourage workers to get vaccinated, and can provide information and resources to educate them on the benefits of vaccination. Workers that cannot get vaccinated for one of the reasons above must be accommodated. For example, they can be given the option to work from home or given a separate workstation that allows for distancing. Meanwhile, to protect other workers and visitors, the employer can require unvaccinated workers to continue adhering to COVID-19 health and safety measures such as masking and distancing.

If the work environment poses a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, such as in the health care sector, the employer may be able to justify making vaccination a necessary requirement of the workplace. This requirement would need to be clearly explained in a company-wide policy that applies to everyone.

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.