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| 1 minute read

Vaccination or Rapid Test Workplace Policies Gaining Momentum and Validity as 4th Wave Workplace and Community Issues Escalate

Attached is a link to the recent publication of the Alberta Federation of Labour.  Kudos to the AFL and all unions and their advisors who are becoming increasingly vocal in recognizing the current validity of workplace policies that require vaccination or regular testing.  

Our legal opinion on this issue has always been it "Depends".  

Key factors on which this "Depends" include:  effectiveness of the vaccine, risks of vaccination, effectiveness of available workplace risk mitigation measures short of vaccination or testing, industry accepted and / or expected practices for workplace health and safety, and the seriousness of the current health / emergency situation and effects of this on your workplace.  

As this linked article states, unfortunately the circumstances and escalation in the COVID- 19 pandemic in the last several weeks have created the perfect storm of problems and concerns for our workplaces and our community that, in our respectful opinion, weighs in favour of supporting the validity of such policies at this time.  

That being said, employers should understand that  these policies should be carefully constructed and adapted to fit your workplace. Current key options and issues to consider include: offering the alternative path of regular rapid testing (employee choice = employee cost), building in accommodation for valid human rights exemptions (typically only medical or religious), setting reasonable timelines and notice periods for compliance, potential discretionary employer consideration of tools such as leave of absence without pay or remote work where such can be reasonably implemented. 

It is also important for employers to understand that it is the current emergency / pandemic context that is the valid basis for such policies and as a result these policies should expressly state that they will be reviewed regularly and, if needed, amended as circumstances change.


brownlee llp, colin fetter, cphr, employment and labour, hr, covid-19, workplace safety, vaccination