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Your rights in a return to the workplace  
By  CMG  •  Posted on  September 7, 2021

As the COVID-19 public health situation changes, many workers are being asked to return to their workplace.

Employers can require employees to work in the workplace, as long as the required health and safety conditions set by federal, provincial, and local authorities are met.

Workers have the right to refuse work that doesn’t meet legal health and safety requirements. The criteria covered under this legislation can be found here: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/legisl/three_rights.html

You are advised to consult with a union staff rep before you consider any refusal, to ensure you are protected

https://www.cmg.ca/en/contact/staff/

Companies are legally permitted to require you to disclose your vaccination status but must protect that information in the same fashion as any other health-related disclosures. It must be kept confidential and only be accessible to the appropriate personnel within a private setting.

If you have a medical, religious, or other reason to be concerned about a vaccination, you can confirm whether those concerns fall within a legally protected area: https://www.osler.com/en/blogs/risk/february-2021/mandatory-vaccinations-for-employees-what-are-the-issues

If for any reason you have concerns about being required to obtain a vaccine, please write to the union’s associate staff rep (sara@cmg.ca) for an assessment. You can also contact your CMG staff rep.           

If you have questions regarding the application of exemptions, contact your provincial human rights tribunal (HRT). In your province, the HRT sets the rules and will be able to respond based on your specific case. 

Some employers have begun imposing mandatory vaccinations, and the legality of challenging this is an open question. There isn’t enough case law yet to be able to determine outcomes or to be able to provide definitive answers as to the rights of workers. It is an evolving matter. Unions across Canada are closely monitoring it.

Currently, only one employer at a CMG unit says it will be requiring proof of vaccination. Others may follow. The legality of this, should it happen, is an open question. 
CBC/Radio-Canada is not requiring proof of vaccinations.

Note: The pandemic protocols and processes are unique; unfortunately there are no clear answers, and many of these issues may be subjected to court challenges and take time to resolve. There are unlikely to be quick resolutions to any of these complicated issues.

If your employer has issued a return-to-work announcement and you have questions regarding the obligations of employers to provide a safe workplace, you can contact the union or consult the following website: https://www.ccohs.ca/products/publications/covid19-employers/

The union encourages everyone who can, to get vaccinated, and will represent anyone negatively impacted by this process.

CMG will also continue to work with employers to maximize safety at work and to provide reasonable and compassionate solutions. We encourage the use of flexible, and alternate work arrangements from home, which have shown to be successful, and more productive for employers, with an improved work/life balance for workers. 

The CMG and our parent union, CWA Canada, are following all developments with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to ensure your rights and safety are protected: https://canadianlabour.ca/statement-on-mandatory-covid-19-vaccination/

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