What Employers Need To Know About Lifting Ontario Covid Restrictions
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, laws are constantly changing. This can cause a lot of uncertainty, particularly for employers, who must follow health legislation while respecting their employees’ rights. With Ontario Covid restrictions lifting and continuing to lift toward the end of April, you might be wondering what you are and aren’t obligated to do moving forward.
Ontario Covid Restrictions: Lifting the Mask Mandate
On March 21, 2022, Ontario Covid restrictions lifted mask mandates in all settings except for the following:
- Public transit,
- Healthcare facilities,
- Home and community care providers (for employees and contractors),
- Long-term care and retirement homes, and
- Shelters and group care facilities that help vulnerable individuals
On April 27, 2022, the Province expects to end all remaining masking requirements.
If you are an Ontario employer, however, you must be aware that you are still subject to occupational health legislation: the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that you take reasonable precautions to keep your employees safe. Whether a precaution is reasonable depends on the specific nature of the workplace. You may need to continue to require employees wear masks while on the worksite.
If you continue to mandate mask-wearing, it must not violate your employees’ human rights.
Ontario Covid Restrictions: Lifting the Vaccine Mandate
Previously, employees of schools and healthcare settings were required by law to be vaccinated or regularly tested if they are unvaccinated. The Ontario Covid restrictions for this mandate ended on March 14, 2022.
Schools and healthcare facilities, and all other employers may still individually mandate employees get vaccinated or tested. Some government and healthcare employers have already announced that they will continue to enforce mandates already in place.
If you have a mandatory vaccine policy at your workplace, it is essential to ensure it does not violate your employees’ rights. An employment and human rights lawyer can help you determine your obligations.
You may have dismissed an employee because they did not conform to a mandate at your workplace. If you’ve lifted that mandate, it is possible to rehire that employee. However, employees who have been dismissed cannot demand an employer rehire them after the mandates are lifted. When you dismiss an employee in conformity with the law, you do not have any obligations toward them after dismissal.
The Ontario covid restrictions are updating, and the legislation is always changing. It is making employers uncertain about their obligations toward their employees. The law is constantly changing, and every workplace is unique. For this reason, it is essential to speak with a lawyer to know what your rights are.
Note: This article reflects COVID-19 policies at the time of writing, on April 4, 2022.
If you are an employer or an employee who needs assistance with Ontario Covid restrictions and employment law, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist.