Two-thirds of employers support mandatory vaccinations

More than 4 in 5 also support vaccine passports for certain jobs

Two-thirds of employers support mandatory vaccinations

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of small and medium-sized employers in Canada are making or plan to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees, finds a new poll by KPMG in Canada.

And 84 per cent say that vaccines are key to avoiding another lockdown and should be mandatory.

"Businesses are grappling with how to navigate the issue of mandatory vaccination and determine whether or not they are legally permitted to require their employees and, in some cases, their customers, to provide proof of vaccination," says Norm Keith, partner, employment and labour law at KPMG Law. "Our poll found a wide consensus among employers that vaccination is the most effective way to protect workers and customers and key to avoiding a new wave of infections and lockdowns."

Canadian staffing platform Staffy is one such employer, announcing this week that it will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all workers on the platform who are placed in healthcare organizations. Any workers without a medical exemption must be vaccinated by Sept. 1, 2021. 

"We have seen the profound impact of COVID-19 from the frontlines. Our decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all our workers is a direct response to the devastation we have already witnessed," says Peter Faist, founder and CEO of Staffy. "The crisis isn't over yet, and we have to stay vigilant."

The federal government, the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have also already announced plans to require workers to be vaccinated against the virus. 

Vaccine passports

In addition, 84 per cent of respondents support vaccine passports to perform certain jobs or enter certain places, according to the KPMG survey of 505 Canadian business owners and decision-makers in August.

Previously, the federal government announced it is working with provinces and territories to develop a secure pan-Canadian require proof of vaccination for cross-border travel.

Quebec will be introducing a COVID-19 vaccination passport in the province on Sept. 1

How to deal with vaccinations

Employers may face the challenging situation of an employee refusing to be vaccinated or provide proof of their vaccination status.

Legal experts have spoken with Canadian HR Reporter about what’s involved with mandatory vaccinations, along with offering employees incentives to get the shot.

Employers have legal duties and responsibilities and, depending on their specific circumstances, need to exercise reasonableness to avoid constructive dismissal claims, says Keith of KPMG, providing key considerations for employers:  

  • Employers have a legal obligation to keep workers safe.
  • Recognize and accommodate exemptions based on disability and religious beliefs protected by human rights law and the duty to accommodate.
  • Assess whether alternative measures such as rapid testing, social distancing, and minimizing time worked in close proximity to others should be considered.
  • Know that workers also have a legal duty to not work in a manner that may endanger others.
  • Protect the confidentiality of employee vaccination data.
  • Be flexible, listen to employee concerns, and enlist workplace joint health and safety committees in developing and implementing policies.

Here are some key questions about COVID-19 vaccines at work.

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