COVID-19 has made a huge impact on our daily lives. Non-essential businesses are closed, social distancing has become the new norm, and working individuals risk infection everyday. If you’re considered an essential worker, you may feel uneasy at your workplace due to this virus; you may not know exactly what your rights are as it relates to COVID-19. Today we’ll be discussing your rights in the workplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities?
Employers need to have a detailed plan in place to keep employees safe. Plans may vary from industry to industry, however, they generally revolve around providing the right protective equipment for employees and ensuring they maintain proper social distancing. Plans must be proactive rather than reactive to ensure that an outbreak does not happen within the workplace.
Refusing Dangerous Work
Remember – refusing dangerous work has been, and will continue to be, a workplace right. If you feel as though your employer is putting your health or the health of your co-workers at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have the right to refuse work.
If you feel as though your position puts your health in danger, go to your supervisor or manager and explain that you feel unsafe. These matters must be addressed by your employer and they are required to take immediate action. If they disagree with your assessment, it is their responsibility to explain why. If you’re not satisfied with their response, you can contact a health and safety officer within your jurisdiction to investigate the situation further. Most importantly, take initiative and document your concerns, as well as the responses from your manager or supervisor!
COVID-19 is particularly dangerous because of its high rate of infection. If one person has it, it can spread to multiple people who they’ve been in contact with. To prevent the spread of this disease, it’s important that you self-isolate if:
You are showing symptoms of COVID-19
You’ve been in contact with someone with a positive COVID-19 test result
You have traveled internationally within the last 14 days
Your employer can request this information from you as it qualifies as a workplace hazard. If you meet any of these criteria, you must self-isolate for the recommended amount of time before returning to the workplace. There have been both federal and provincial measures put in place to reduce the impact this will have on you as an individual.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented moment for our country. It’s having a major impact on our citizens and the workforce, which is why you must know your rights. If you’ve been the victim of an unsafe workplace, learn more about how we have been assisting injured and mistreated workers for over 55 years.