Search WSPS.CA

Can employees refuse to work because of the pandemic?

YES! Under certain circumstances your employee may have the right to refuse work.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives a worker the right to refuse work that he or she believes is unsafe to himself/herself or another worker. A worker who believes that he or she is endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work.

Take a read of our article below to get tips on how to avoid potential work refusals.

9 suggestions to help avoid work refusals

One of the consequences of working in an essential industry during a time of pandemic is a heightened awareness of risk. It's only human to be concerned for yourself and for others. Could my customer or my co-worker be an asymptomatic transmitter? Am I putting my family at risk?

Employers have an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take reasonable care to maintain a safe and healthy workplace at all times, including during a pandemic. At the same time, workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it is likely to endanger themselves or other workers. This right is a pillar of our prevention system.

How COVID-19 fears could spark a refusal

Mathews Dinsdale and Clark LLP has identified several situations involving COVID-19 that could trigger a work refusal:

  • a confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19 in the workplace
  • a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an employee's immediate family or other close contact
  • the risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 from contractors, customers or clients
  • depending on the nature of the workplace or the people it serves
  • concerns from employees who are particularly vulnerable (over age 65, compromised immune system, underlying medical condition) not wishing to report to work
  • employee concerns over workplace practices and control methods, including personal protective equipment, or
  • employees with a generalized fear of contracting COVID-19 by travelling to or attending work*
Read full article
Live Chat