In the News
Aug 16, 2021

Peter Straszynski quoted by CBC News on mandatory vaccination policies

CBC News View original

Peter Straszynski was quoted by CBC News on several big companies who are exploring mandatory vaccination policies for Canadian staff. 

When Twitter eventually reopens its offices in both Canada and the United States, the company says employees who choose to return to the workplace must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Safety was the reason," Twitter Canada spokesperson Cam Gordon said in an email.

Twitter has about 150 employees in Canada, largely based in Toronto. The social networking service is one of several businesses that has introduced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees returning to the workplace.

But other companies are still on the fence, as they try to determine their rights in mandating such a policy.

On Friday, the federal government announced it will soon require its federal employees and those working in some federally regulated sectors, such as airlines and railways, to be fully vaccinated. But private businesses that don't fall into that category are left to decide for themselves whether they should impose a vaccination requirement.

"There are businesses that are interested in mandatory vaccines," said labour and employment lawyer Peter Straszynski with the Toronto law firm Torkin Manes. "Clients are asking whether it's legal for them to do it and what the restrictions are on their ability to do it."

When their offices reopen, Google, Uber, Lyft and Netflix will each require that their in-office U.S. employees be fully vaccinated. Those companies told CBC News that they're exploring the same policy for their workers in Canada.

"We currently are looking into local regulations globally where all our sites are located, including Canada," Google spokesperson Wendy Manton said in an email.

Google has 2,000 employees at offices in Toronto, Waterloo, Ont., and Montreal. 

Legal questions

Is it legal for companies to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

In the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance in May to state that — subject to some limitations — federal EEO laws don't prevent an employer from implementing a vaccination requirement.

In Canada, Straszynski says occupational health and safety legislation requires that employers protect their workers from health and safety risks in the workplace. But he said companies adopting a vaccination policy must accommodate workers not able to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

"My view is that you can mandate vaccinations, you just have to be careful of the exceptions. And the exceptions are human rights."

To read the full article, please visit the CBC News website.

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