Vaccine mandates by Alberta employers are becoming more prevalent as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out earlier this year, questions were raised regarding whether or not employers can require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While employers were within their right to require mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment, especially in high-risk work environments, the recent provincial government mandate shed additional light on this conversation. In early October 2021, the Alberta provincial government mandated proof of vaccination or regular negative tests for all provincial employees.
An employer’s decision on whether to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace should be based on doing what is reasonable to protect the health and safety of their workforce. The mandate should also be in accordance with their legal obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Alberta.
Mandated Workplace COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
One method that employers and businesses have used to ensure the health and safety of their staff during the pandemic is implementing policies and procedures which employees must adhere to as a condition of their employment.
A few examples of these polices include:
- Mandatory use of masks while working on-site
- Remote working, where applicable
- Social distancing within the workplace
- Daily symptom monitoring/screening
- Regular COVID-19 testing
- Requiring employees to stay home from work, if showing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19
Can employers in Alberta implement a COVID-19 vaccine policy?
In short, yes–the option to implement a vaccine policy is available to employers. For example, OHS laws require employers to provide a safe workplace which includes ensuring employees are protected against airborne pathogens. In light of the pandemic, this may include vaccination or other alternatives, such as regular COVID-19 testing.
Each employer must make an informed decision as to whether mandatory vaccination is a condition of employment while considering the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Alberta and the Alberta Human Rights Act.
How do I implement a vaccine policy for my employees and business?
While the regulations surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine are continually evolving, it can be tough to keep up. If you are an employer with questions about how to implement a vaccine mandate in your workplace, or an employee considering your options, Ahlstrom Wright’s employment lawyers can help.