What you need to know about vaccination passport and policy requirements

The province's recent announcement that it would introduce a COVID-19 vaccination passport system for customers entering certain businesses creates an issue of another sort for workplaces: what about their employees?

Trevor Beauchamp, WSPS' Director of Field Operations, has been asked more than once, "Why are workers exempt from the passport system?"

The province's Enhanced COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate system, which came into effect on September 22, requires customers entering certain businesses to show proof of full vaccination and personal identification.*

To help businesses implement the system, the government published Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Ontario Act. Among other things, the document lists the types of businesses affected, identifies the steps workplaces must take to verify information presented by customers, and indicates who is exempt from the passport system requirements, including workers and contractors.

"Some people are confused about why workers are being exempted," says Trevor. "The answer is simple. Workers are governed by other legislation - the Occupational Health & Safety Act, which requires businesses to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers against workplace hazards, COVID-19 included, and the Re-Opening Ontario Act, which requires all operating businesses to have a COVID-19 safety plan." Workplace requirements under the plan include physical distancing, masks, eye protection, barriers, ventilation, cleaning and sanitizing, screening, and more.

Some workplaces are addressing their legal obligations under these acts by developing voluntary or mandatory workplace vaccination policies. In fact, under O.Reg. 577/21 a policy may be a legal requirement if decreed by the medical officer of health for your local health unit.