TORONTO — Can your boss tell you a COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory to come into work? Legal minds say the law is not clear.
While Canadian courts have looked at similar cases, one employment attorney tells CityNews there’s really nothing like what’s happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re dealing with circumstances where decision-makers have not weighed in on whether an employer can or cannot mandate, so to speak, vaccination,” said Tushar Anandasagar with Gowling WLG’s Employment, Labour and Equalities Group in Toronto.
“We’re in a legal vacuum in a sense.”
Canada has seen cases where a hospital has mandated its nurses to get a flu shot or wear a mask. But Anandasagar says the situations are far too different.
Those cases didn’t look at mandatory vaccinations, per se, but looked at one specific policy requiring a mask or a vaccine.
That case considered if nurses wearing masks might intimidate patients, but Anandasagar says the pandemic may have changed that.
“Over the course of the last 14 months or so, that frame of reference has completely changed. The concept of an individual being intimidated by a mask is out of the window. We are now dealing with the opposite circumstances, where people are being intimidated by individuals not wearing masks.”
In the U.S., some employers are offering cash bonuses to workers who get vaccinated. And a recent survey of American employers says 33 per cent of bosses plan to give paid time off for vaccinations.
David Zweig at the University of Toronto says incentives are the way to go, as data shows workers respond better to a carrot, rather than a stick.
“If you engage in rewarding people for engaging in the behaviour they want them to do, that behaviour will increase, and resistance will go down,” said Zweig.
“If you tell people they have to get vaccinated, they’ll immediately build up resistance to doing so. But if you offer them incentives for getting vaccinated — you give them paid time off to go get vaccinated, you give them some kind of reward — you’re going to get a lot more compliance and a lot less resistance to doing that.”
Now, this comes as vaccination starts to roll out at workplaces across Canada.
But in those instances, Anandasagar emphasizes the clinics aren’t run by the employer, but local authorities.
And they’re not mandating vaccination, just encouraging it.
-with files from Xiaoli Li
This content was originally published here.