February 17, 2022

Following a summer with low case counts and high rates of vaccination, it was natural to hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would soon be behind us. However, the recent uptick in cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant means that employers, unions, and workers won’t be able to let their guard down just yet. Fortunately, workplace parties are starting to get answers on the issues involving workplace vaccination and testing policies now that courts, labour arbitrators, and human rights adjudicators have started to weigh in with decisions.

In this webinar, legal experts will review the latest developments in this evolving area and explain their implications for workplace parties, addressing questions such as the following:

  • Can employees be required to undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19? Are there factors that make mandatory COVID-19 testing more reasonable in some workplaces than in others? Does the manner of administering the test (e.g. swab or saliva) factor into this analysis? What about frequency of testing?
  • What factors have led arbitrators to uphold mandatory vaccination policies? Conversely, on what grounds have they found that such policies were unreasonable and unenforceable?
  • What information will employees be required to provide to establish that they qualify for an exemption on religious grounds or for a medical exemption?
  • How can employers demonstrate that a strict policy is necessary in their particular workplace and that a less onerous policy would not suffice to protect health and safety?
  • When, if ever, should vaccination policies offer an alternative to vaccination, such as mandatory COVID-19 testing or the use of additional personal protective equipment? Who should bear the cost of these alternative measures? Are workers entitled to compensation for the time spent administering a test or reporting the results? What about when they’re required to self-isolate but don’t ultimately test positive for COVID-19?
  • Are there measures that workplace parties should put in place to protect private information collected in connection with vaccination or testing policies?
  • What is the union’s obligation to advance grievances on behalf of employees who don’t follow workplace testing and vaccination policies?