Forum Forum Employment and HR Unsafe workplace, employee refusal to work due to COVID-19

  • Unsafe workplace, employee refusal to work due to COVID-19

     Shraddha updated 8 months ago 2 Members · 2 Posts
  • Alice

    Member
    May 17, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Can my employee refuse to work on the basis that the workplace is unsafe due to COVID-19?

    • This discussion was modified 8 months ago by  Alice.
  • Shraddha

    Moderator
    May 17, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Alice,

    In Ontario, employees are entitled to refuse work if they feel it is unsafe. If that happens, an employer is required to investigate the situation and advise the employee whether the safety risk has been resolved or not. If the employee continues to believe there is a safety concern, the Ministry of Labour can be asked to come in to investigate.

    There must be reasonable and legitimate grounds for the employee to believe there is a safety risk in the workplace. Fear of getting sick, if there are no current incidents in the workplace or other risk factors, is likely not sufficient. However, in a situation where another employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or where the employee is interacting regularly with the public, there may be a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed by the employer to ensure the health and safety of all workers.

    Employers should also be alert to the fact that some employees may have legitimate safety concerns as a result of their personal health or circumstances (for example, any employees who are immunocompromised). In these cases, the employer will likely have a duty to accommodate the employee up to the point of undue hardship.

    For more information refer to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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