Workplace toolkit provides guidance on developing policy
Employers are being urged by Toronto’s medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, to institute a workplace vaccination policy to protect employees and the public from COVID-19.
And as part of the City of Toronto’s ongoing response to the pandemic, Toronto Public Health is launching a workplace toolkit with guidance on developing such a policy.
“Supporting your employees to get vaccinated is the best way to help protect them from the risks of COVID-19, prevent outbreaks in workplace settings and build confidence for a safer return to work as we continue living with this virus in our community. This is why I’m strongly recommending that local employers establish a workplace vaccination policy to protect workers, their families and our communities,” says de Villa.
At the very least, employers’ vaccination policy must require workers to provide proof of their vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization, according to the public health unit.
It must also mandate that unvaccinated workers provide written proof of a medical reason from a physician or nurse practitioner that includes whether the reason is permanent or time-limited. These workers must also complete a vaccination education course on the risks of being unvaccinated in the workplace.
Employers should also identify how workers’ vaccination status information will be collected and protected in accordance with privacy legislation and explain the level of risk posed by COVID-19 in each unique workplace setting.
Ontario is also now requiring hospitals and home and community care facilities to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies for employees, contractors, students and volunteers, and for ambulance services to have the same for paramedics. This new requirement is similar to the one that has been implemented in long-term care homes earlier this year.
Toronto Public Health also recommends workplaces provide COVID-19 testing and require strict adherence to physical distancing and other public health measures. Employers can also encourage the wearing of personal protective equipment and ensure that appropriate ventilation is in place.
The government unit also says employers can also play a critical role in promoting the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine by:
- providing vaccine information from credible sources
- providing translated resources
- supporting vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers
- providing paid leave to get vaccinated
- reminding workers that they are legally entitled to up to three paid sick days if they have side effects from the vaccine
- offering incentives to get vaccinated
- hosting an on-site vaccination clinic
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 poll by KPMG in Canada. And several employers have been stepping up to help out with Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.