Privacy, human rights issues behind proof of vaccination policy still being optional in many workplaces: prof

·2 min read
In Saskatchewan, employers outside the public service are not forced to implement a proof-of-vaccination or negative-test policies for employees. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)
In Saskatchewan, employers outside the public service are not forced to implement a proof-of-vaccination or negative-test policies for employees. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)

An expert in health policy says it's common for provinces with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination programs to not require businesses to mandate vaccines for their employees.

In Saskatchewan, employers outside the public service can voluntarily implement proof-of-vaccination or negative-test policies for employees.

The province has introduced regulations to support any Saskatchewan employer that chooses to adopt such policies.

Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor in the faculty of law and the Cumming school of medicine at the University of Calgary, told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger that she believes the main reason we are seeing provinces do this is because of the employment law considerations that arise.

In the case of a unionized workforce, Hardcastle said the employer will need to discuss those policies with the union, depending on what's in the collective agreement.

Hardcastle said there are also privacy and human rights issues to manage.

"How are you going to accommodate your workers who can't get vaccinated?" she said. "Can you assign them to alternate duties where they're not exposed to other customers?"

She said employers also need to be mindful of how they are collecting and storing health information.

"But both the privacy issue and the human rights issue are legal concerns that can be managed," she said. "They're not insurmountable hurdles to imposing mandatory vaccines in the workplace."

Hardcastle said large banks, universities and others are clearly getting advice saying you can mandate your workforce be vaccinated within the confines of the law.

Now that larger employers have done this, smaller ones are following suit, she said.

She also said it's becoming more common for smaller businesses to declare that everyone who works there is fully vaccinated, especially in settings where employees are in close contact with customers.

"I think that's actually becoming a customer service, a way of appealing to customers," she said. "I think that will help their business in terms of those customers who are looking for that added layer of protection."

LISTEN | Lorian Hardcastle spoke with host Stefani Langenegger on The Morning Edition

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