Fiona Martyn, Durham news on COVID-19 vaccines

A headshot of Canadian employment lawyer Fiona Martin next to the Samfiru Tumarkin LLP and Durham Radio News logos.

Vaccine distribution has created some confusion regarding employment rights for both employers and employees. While some businesses in the U.S have imposed mandatory vaccines for employees, Canadian businesses are still unaware of what they can or cannot implement.

Fiona Martyn, a Toronto employment lawyer and Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP spoke with Durham Radio News to explore employment rights and vaccinations.

“An employer cannot force you to get vaccinated, they can strongly encourage you to get vaccinated, but they can’t penalize you for being not vaccinated,” says Martyn.

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Martyn cautions employers from implementing policies that would not be held up in court. “The way that the legislation is right now, it exposes the employer to a lot of liability,” Martyn explains. “With the exception of long-term cares homes in Ontario, there is no legislation on either the federal or provincial level that requires employees to get vaccinated.”

Martyn goes on to explain that employers could be on the receiving end of human rights complaints and wrongful dismissal suits. “They can’t penalize or terminate any employees who choose not to get vaccinated,” said Martyn.

Can employers ask about employees’ vaccination status?

“As an employer, you are allowed to request enough information in order to continue to accommodate the employees’ work situation,” Martyn explains.

“If you ask an employee whether or not they’ve been vaccinated and their answer is no and I have no intention of getting vaccinated, an employer can use that information to continue to allow that employee to work remotely”.  Martyn explains that employers are able to use this information in order to drive health policies in the workplace.

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