When it comes to reopening businesses in British Columbia, employers must consider several important matters. Occupational health and safety regulations mandate that workplace environments must be free of risks that could harm employees’ health and safety. The vaccination status of a company’s employees may be relevant in assessing risk in the workplace.
Employers must consider the risks of virus spread between employees, as well as the danger of harming customers if the business deals with the public. Business owners may want to reassure the public that their dealings would not put them at risk of infection. The appropriate approach will depend on the specific facts of each workplace.
Employers’ right to ask employees to disclose vaccination status
Nothing stops business owners from asking employees about their vaccination status; however, the employees’ disclosure of their vaccination status must be voluntary and in line with employees’ right to privacy. The employer should be able to justify the importance of disclosure and its role in maintaining health and safety in the workplace.
What to include in a vaccination disclosure policy
Employers looking to enforce a vaccination disclosure policy will benefit from a formal written policy setting out the parameters of disclosure and consequences. The most crucial point is to assure employees that all personal medical information collected will be strictly confidential, protected and secured. The employer should explain the reasons for requesting vaccination information in detail. The policy must include details of protection measures to secure the data and to destroy the data afterward. Employers should collect only essential information. If it is necessary to share the data while establishing a safe work environment, an employer should share no more than the number of vaccinated staff members.
An employer must also consider how to deal with employees who are not vaccinated, or do not wish to disclose their status. Employees who prefer not to disclose their vaccination status could be offered alternative duties. Another option is to allow those staff members to continue remote working from their homes.
Re-opening your businesses and bringing your employees back to the office is a process that will require many decisions. In making these preparations, it may be beneficial to consult with an employment lawyer to ensure that return-to-work arrangements comply with British Columbia employment law.