Rudner Law’s - Getting Back To Business FAQ

As we navigate a pandemic and the tentative efforts to get “back to normal” in the workplace, there is no shortage of questions.

➢ Can you require that employees be vaccinated?

➢ Can employees insist on working from home?

➢ How do you ensure a safe workplace without infringing an employee’s rights?

The reality is that most of our work is caused by people making assumptions instead of finding out what their rights and obligations are before acting. As we often say, it is always less expensive to prevent a problem than it is to fix it. A mistake can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, plus unnecessary legal fees.

We prepared a Guide to Getting Back to Business back in May 2020. Perhaps that was overly optimistic, but with a widely vaccinated population, businesses across the country are now starting to welcome employees back to the office. Headlines are filled with discussions of mandatory vaccinations and vaccination passports, as well as reluctance to return to the workplace.

There are many questions from employers and employees on what they can and can’t do, how to keep the workplace safe, and what rights and responsibilities each party has in this process. We are working with clients to help them understand their rights and obligations, and to enforce their legal rights. Surprisingly, many employers are underestimating their rights and allowing employees to dictate the terms of the relationship. While we encourage you to be reasonable, it is important to remember that the pandemic did not change the fact that ultimately, you as the employer are still the boss.

Can employers dismiss employees who refuse to take the vaccine?

In short: yes. The reality is that most workers in Canada do not have job security; what they have is an entitlement to severance if they lose their job through no fault of their own[1]. The vast majority of employees can be dismissed at practically any time for practically any reason, or no reason at all, so long as they receive the appropriate termination pay/severance. We are working with many companies to design policies on this issue and address employees who refuse to comply with reasonable safety requirements.

What if they have an exemption from vaccination requirements?