Workplace COVID-19 Vaccine Policies
Mandatory vaccination directives and instructions have been revoked as of March 14 but will be replaced with operational guidance or recommendations from the CMOH and relevant ministry. You can find the technical briefing that speaks about these changes here. Although these Directives are revoked, individual organizations will continue to have the authority to keep requirements in place. Personal protective equipment and rapid antigen tests will also continue to be provided to support health and safety in these settings.
There are many benefits for all workplaces to have an organization specific COVID-19 vaccine policy. It can be part of a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan considering specific risks in the organization for COVID-19 transmission, provide an opportunity to provide education and awareness to all employees, and promote higher levels of vaccination in the workplace to increase the safety of employees and the public.
In workplaces, vaccination adds to, rather than replaces, other workplace safety measures. Employers are still required to provide a safe work environment for staff and this can continue to consider COVID-19 prevention measures for their particular workplace.
Workplace COVID-19 Vaccination
Promoting vaccination in the workplace is an important step in ensuring your staff understand the importance of being vaccinated and have an opportunity to receive credible information about vaccines. This will also help them show support for vaccination in the workplace.
Benefits to your employees of being vaccinated
- The vaccines are very safe, and mRNA vaccines provide a very high level of protection from hospitalization and ICU admission as well as some protection from transmission, particularly when your COVID-19 vaccines are up to date. See the new guidance on staying up to date (fully vaccinated).
- When you are more protected from getting COVID-19, it also means people around you are more protected.
- It makes travelling safer, when also following COVID-19 precautions as needed.
- You are more protected and protect others when playing sports and attending other activities or events.
- There is less time off from work or school if you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and have no symptoms.
- It will help us keep workplaces, organizations and businesses fully staffed and operating.
Resources you could use for education and promotion in your workplace
- The facts about COVID-19 vaccines (Government of Canada)
- COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Antigen Point-of-Care Testing and rapid testing portal for essential businesses in Ontario
- Information for frequently asked questions
Where to get Vaccine
In the Community
- Staff can attend community vaccination clinics or contact their health care provider or a participating pharmacy to make an appointment.
In the Workplace
- You can arrange for a workplace in-house clinic if there are sufficient staff (and their family members) who require vaccination. Email [email protected] for more information.
- Contact the Stop the Spread Business Information Line 1-888-444-3659 to request vaccine supply to administer on-site for employees. Businesses will need to meet certain criteria to ensure proper storage and safe administration of the vaccines, including availability of health human resources.
Know what is happening locally
See our reports and dashboards for more information on local COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates.
Resources for Workplace Health and Safety
- Learn how COVID-19 vaccines help protect you and make your workplace safer: COVID-19 vaccines and workplace health and safety
- Get employer information about COVID-19 vaccinations: CCOHS: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Tips: COVID-19 Vaccines: What it Means for Employers
- Get tip sheets and other guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace: CCOHS: COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources
Policy Development Information
Important Note: Each business/organization is responsible to implement their own workplace vaccine policy. The Health Unit can provide information about the elements of a policy, as above. The Health Unit cannot approve another business or organization’s workplace vaccination policy.
How to create a policy:
Getting legal advice before developing or implementing a vaccination policy can help employers understand the implications. This might include advice on topics such as:
- human rights and accessibility
- labour and employment law
- health care consent
- occupational health and safety
COVID-19 and mandatory vaccination: Ethical considerations and caveats (World Health Organization policy brief)
Implementing a Workplace Testing Program
If you have started a Rapid Testing Program in your workplace
- Review these resources for testing guidance (PDF) and training materials
- Make arrangements with one of the approved biomedical waste facilities for your waste disposal
The Environmental Protection Act and Regulation 347 require that antigen rapid-test waste be finally disposed of at an authorized hazardous waste disposal site
- Properly handle and dispose of used test kits
There are some elements that would be important to include in your policy:
- Inform employees. Explain the purpose of the policy and provide clear and strong information on the virus, authorized vaccines, and the vaccination process.
- Outline if vaccines are highly recommended or required, and for which employees, based on an assessment of the risk of being exposed to the virus, and the risk of transmitting the virus to others, in the workplace. Explain the rationale for this policy.
- Discuss the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the general duty clause, and Ontario’s Internal Responsibility System, which set out employer, supervisor and worker duties for keeping the workplace safe in the context of a pandemic.
- Outline what proof of vaccination looks like. For example, seeing a copy of the provincial vaccine clinic record or verbal attestation. From an employer privacy perspective, collect as little vaccine information as possible. Clarifying what it means to be up to date on their vaccinations. See the new guidance on staying up to date (fully vaccinated).
- Discuss exemptions under the Human Rights Code. The code protects workers with disabilities from discrimination. For example, the risk of an allergic reaction to the vaccine would be considered a medical disability. Employers are required to accommodate exempted workers, on an individual basis, to the point of undue hardship. Identify how medical exemptions will be handled. COVID-19 Vaccination Policies and Human Rights Considerations.
- Address privacy issues. Address these concerns by outlining why you are collecting the information – e.g., to keep all workers safe – describe how you will use it, how securely it will be stored, and the only purposes this information will be used for. It’s always a best practice to secure consent.
See this policy template and the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services website for this and more information and resources.
What unvaccinated employees do if there is an outbreak
The Policy could include details about the isolation period for non-vaccinated employees e.g. if the time will be paid and for how long.
You can access guidance on how to manage close contacts in your workplace by visiting http://www.ontario.ca/exposed. The following flowcharts will easily help determine how to manage Case and Contact Tracing in your work place: