Loading articles...

Could your employer force you to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Last Updated Dec 13, 2020 at 10:31 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Companies may implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies even if the federal government does not, says a labour lawyer.

Calgary lawyer Sarah Coderre says many employers are considering policies that would require some employees – possibly not all – to get vaccinated.

“If there is no public-health order made in respect to vaccines, I think there is going to be employers who try to put in their vaccination policy,” said Coderre, the managing lawyer of Taylor Janis LLP’s Calgary firm.

“Under the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is free from hazardous substances. That includes biological hazards such as COVID-19.”

It is unclear if the employee could be terminated by refusing to take the vaccine. But if the mandate came from the federal or provincial government, it would be easier for employers to implement those policies, Coderre believes.

“If it’s something the government has put in place and the employer is just enforcing it, then that person failing to get the vaccination could result in them losing their job,” she said.

But Coderre says there could be exceptions, including for health reasons and religious beliefs, among others.

“If you’re dealing with vulnerable populations or dealing with lots and lots of people in schools for example, I could see having those vaccinations being something an employer could reasonably ask for.

“But if you work in a call centre or work from home, is that something an employer can reasonably ask for and is it something they can enforce?”