Businesses and organizations have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for employees and volunteers. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19. Promoting and supporting employees and volunteers to get vaccinated, reduces COVID-19 outbreaks and builds confidence in the workplace. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is strongly encouraging all workplaces to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies.
Key Considerations When Implementing A Workplace Immunization Policy
Explain why the policy is being implemented within your workplace. Include the risks of COVID-19 transmission as well as the importance of vaccination.
Explain to whom the policy applies. Will the policy affect all employees, students, contractors, volunteers? Will the policy have an effect on clients or customers?
State the specific actions employees must take. This includes providing proof of immunization, providing proof of medical exemption, or completing a vaccination education session if choosing not to receive the vaccine.
Will mandatory testing be required if employees choose to remain unvaccinated?
Provide a reasonable timeline for employees to complete the requirements of the policy.
Outline the potential consequences for workers who do not comply with the policy.
Provisions for unvaccinated employees
Provide options for employees who are unvaccinated during a COVID-19 outbreak; including redeployment or reassignment, alternate work arrangements, or remote work. Continue practicing social distancing, masking, increased handwashing, and sanitizing surfaces.
Demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers to get vaccinated. Supports could include; vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers, facilitating discussions with a health care professional, providing paid leave to get vaccinated, reminding employees that they are entitled to up to three paid sick days if they have side effects from the vaccine, providing transportation support to get vaccinated, or hold a vaccination clinic on-site.
Ensure personal health/vaccination information is kept in a secure manner and only used when required.
Have a clear communication plan to inform workers about the policy.
Identify a staff contact
Identify a contact person within your organization that employees can contact with questions about the policy, to request accommodation, or for more information about how to comply with the policy. This may include initiating conversations with workplace health and safety committees, unions, or workplace associations. Finding a key contact within the workplace proves beneficial in building employee confidence and trust.
Policies should require employees who do not provide proof of vaccination to complete a comprehensive vaccination education session. The education component should outline the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. Employers may utilize the following module from Toronto Public Health to fulfill the education requirements of their workplace immunization policy.
COVID-19 Vaccination: Understanding the Benefits and Risks
- COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Workplaces
- Directive 6 Policy
Effective September 7, 2021, the Ontario Medical Officer of Health has issued a directive making vaccines mandatory in high-risk settings. Hospitals, home and community care service providers (employees, staff, contractors, students, and volunteers), and ambulance services (paramedics) are required to have a vaccination policy in place. At a minimum, these individuals will need to provide proof of one of three things:
- Full vaccination against COVID-19
- A medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
- Completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session
COVID-19 Vaccine: Understanding the Risks and Benefits-Toronto Public Health