Employer's Responsibilities During COVID-19 Pandemic

What are the employer's responsibilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Health & Safety
 Min read
September 10, 2021

What are my responsibilities and obligations during the COVID-19 Pandemic as an employer?

As COVID-19 poses a risk to employees in the workplace, employers have the responsibility to protect employees from hazards posed by infectious diseases. Whether you have one employee or more than one hundred employees, there are applicable rules and regulations regarding Health & Safety practices that you must abide by within your workplace. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees as well as prevent any workplace injuries. Under the Occupation Health and Safety Act, employers have an obligation to educate, inform, supervise, and protect your employees.

With COVID-19 still influencing and affecting our daily lives, are you prepared as an employer to protect your employees in every way possible? 

COVID-19 presents a risk to the health and safety of their employees, employers must take all reasonable steps to firstly, address the risk and secondly, to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The nature of your business and workplace will identify the appropriate and reasonable steps you should take. All implemented policies and procedures need to be clearly and effectively communicated to all employees. For starters, reasonable steps could include:

  1. Require employees to notify their manager or business owner if they, or someone they have been in close proximity to, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been directed to quarantine by public health officials.
  2. Should an employee exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, the employee should stay home and seek guidance from public health authorities on whether they should quarantine or retrieve a COVID-19 test. Employees who exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19 should not return to the workplace until they are cleared by public health officials.
  3. Remind employees to wash their hands frequently and ensure that hand sanitizer and soap are available for employees. (Employers should increase signage within the workplace, i.e. on bathroom doors, entryways, etc.).
  4. Where possible, employees should work from home.
  5. Ensure all contact information for all employees is up to date. 

While the COVID-19 Pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, some regulations and travel advisories will change as per provincial and federal laws. Employers need to maintain their responsibility of updating their policies and procedures and make sure they can adapt to those evolving requirements under Ontario law. As previously mentioned, under Ontario law, employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of their employees, this includes protecting employees from hazards posed by infectious diseases – enter COVID-19. Requirements for all workplaces under the OHSA include: 

  1. Provide information, instruction, and supervision on how to work safely and ensure all employees are aware of hazards
  2. Ensure supervisors and managers know what is required to protect employee’s health and safety on the job
  3. Create and implement workplace health and safety procedures
  4. Ensure all employees follow the law as well as the workplace health and safety policies and procedures
  5. Ensure employees wear the right protective equipment and are trained on how to use it
  6. Take all reasonable precautions in the circumstances to protect workers from being hurt or getting a work-related illness.

Not sure where to start?

Our experts have consulted with many businesses on their responsibilities as an employer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We have the experience to help you navigate these difficult times and help you protect your employees from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. We provide a virtual on-site walkthrough to determine your business’ health and safety needs and coach you through every step of the way. 

For your customized workplace walkthrough, get in touch with one of our experts today!

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