CALGARY – Can your employer force you to get vaccinated? The National Football League has announced COVID-19 outbreaks due to unvaccinated players will result in the cancellation of games and no one will be paid.
This has triggered a social media debate where some are advocating for “no jab, no job” while others say getting vaccinated is a personal choice.
In countries like Zimbabwe, some companies have already made it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated.
As for Canada, one Calgary based firm says it’s likely to happen very soon.
“There are some companies that are doing this now, I have already seen it, at least once where, I can’t disclose who, but there is a company that is requiring employees to either get vaccinated or to follow a mandatory mask policy,” said Joel Fairbrother, a partner at Bow River Law LLP.
“It’s sort of an either-or situation — and the difficulty they are likely to face there is — if someone is wearing a mask, you are pretty much disclosing to everyone else that they are not vaccinated, so you are still running in that privacy issue.”
Some health policy consultants argue that unvaccinated individuals are threatening the safety of all, but especially children, who cannot be vaccinated as yet.
A former health CEO, Dr. Dennis Kendel, says it’s the responsibility of employers to make vaccination mandatory, especially in the health sector.
“There may be some difference between having policies that make vaccination mandatory if you are first applying for a job as opposed to when you are already in a job,” said Kendel. “But, I do think that employers and particularly hospital management staff are going to have to make some pretty hard decisions if they have existing staff that refuse to get vaccinated. I am not sure it’s ethically appropriate to deploy them in areas where people are quite critically ill.”
According to Alberta Health Services (AHS) about 96 per cent of Albertans who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 have had just one shot or less.
In this situation, can Canadian firms fire you for refusing to get vaccinated?
“So, I haven’t seen a case yet where someone’s employment has been terminated for refusing to get vaccinated, but I am very confident that it will happen soon,” said Fairbrother. “So, in cases where there is mandatory vaccination, there will be legal claims, breach of privacy, constructive dismissal. Where the employer terminates, they are likely to say it’s justified cause and (affected) people will be saying its wrongful dismissal.”