What d FAQ? COVID-19 and You: Jobs and Employment
Q: Can my employer force me to take a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: No. At the time of writing, the decision of whether you take a vaccine is yours. That said, you'd know from the news that some employers have been threatening workers, rostering workers to work at inconvenient hours or mandating regularly tests. Although employers do owe a legal duty to provide a safe working environment, which may include requiring testing, whether the employee can be made to bear the full cost remains unclear. If you believe that your job is in jeopardy due to your choice not to take a vaccine, or you believe that your employer is changing your terms of work because you have not taken a vaccine, you should consult either your Union or lawyer.
Q: Can my employer fire me for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The law does not mandate persons to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Until that changes, the Government cannot force anyone to take the vaccine. It is a personal choice, for now. The threat of being fired over a refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine may amount to a unilateral (one sided) change to the terms and conditions of employment which both employee and employer agreed would apply at the time at which the employee started working. This is not allowable and may even be grounds for a constructive dismissal claim or a discrimination complaint (if the employee had a genuine medical reason for not taking the vaccine).
New employees (who are medically able to take a vaccine), however, may be subject mandatory vaccination being a term of their employment. As with all terms and conditions of employment, and contracts generally, both parties must agree to this, where there is a new contract.
Q: Can my employer ask me if I have COVID-19?
A: Yes. Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If you are symptomatic and/or have been exposed to a person who recently tested positive, your employer may ask you to quarantine (beyond the time required by the County Medical Officer of Health) and/or to test for COVID-19 before you return to work. The responsible thing would be to report any exposure or symptoms immediately to all persons who may be affected.
Can your employer mandate you to provide your vaccination card and/or negative test results on a regular basis now that the safe zones law has been revoked? This appears uncertain but leans unfavourably for employers if there's been no previous consultation. If your employer starts doing this after the revocation of the safe zones, or you need any legal advice in respect of your employment and COVID-19, speak with your union or lawyer.
Last updated: 31 July 2022.