Instructions for Employers for COVID-19 Cases in the Workplace
Direct anyone with symptoms, any cases and contacts to follow the instructions here: Instructions for positive cases and high risk contacts
- Handout for Employees
Provincial Rules under the Reopening Ontario Act
- An overview of provincial rules currently in effect - COVID-19 public health measures and advice
- Roadmap Exit Step Regulatory Requirements - Schedules 4-5 Ontario Regulation 364/20
For recent provincial announcements:
Screening Tools for Workplaces
Businesses may post passive screening signage. Businesses may elect to continue active screening using the tool below..
- Ontario’s COVID-19 Worker and Employee Screening Questions
The above online tools will show the result of the screening on the last page. Individuals can bring this result on their device or printed to show upon entry.
Workplace Safety Plan
Proof of Vaccination
Businesses can elect to ask for proof of vaccination. For further information, visit:
For posters, please visit our Signs and Posters page.
Developing a Vaccination Policy for Employees
WDGPH is strongly recommending local employers institute a workplace vaccination policy to protect their employees and the public from COVID-19. See below for information on establishing a vaccination policy for employees and read WDGPH’s letter to employers.
Promoting vaccine uptake is important to help reduce COVID-19 workplace outbreaks and build confidence for a safer return to work. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19. It is safe and highly effective at reducing virus spread and protecting against serious illness.
Workplaces can help encourage vaccination by creating a supportive environment that makes it easier for workers to get vaccinated, and by providing information from trusted sources. COVID-19 vaccination provides an important layer of protection for workers, their families and the community.
Please note: The information provided on this webpage does not contain legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as legal advice; those for whom these recommendations are intended may seek their own legal advice for their specific circumstance. Information in this section has been adapted with permission from Toronto Public Health.
- Strategies to Increase Vaccine Uptake at your Workplace
Employers can encourage employees to get vaccinated and support increased vaccination uptake with a few simple steps:
- Lead by example and get fully vaccinated.
- Share your reasons for getting the vaccine.
- Consider recruiting workplace vaccine champions to help staff understand the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Post information about nearby vaccination clinics in common areas.
- Offer flexible work hours, or paid time off for employees to go get vaccinated.
Many people want to get vaccinated however they may not have the opportunity or the time to get their COVID-19 vaccines. For example, people may not live or work close to a clinic, or they may be concerned about side effects or unsure how to get vaccinated without a health card.
- Establishing a Vaccination Policy for Your Workplace
Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers. To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a workplace vaccination policy is an important measure employers should implement to protect their workers and the public.
- Assess your workplace risk of transmission by considering the following:
- Does your workforce have a high vaccination rate?
- Can workers keep at least two metres apart while performing their work?
- Are workers required to be in close contact with others?
- How long and how often are workers in close contact with other workers or patrons?
- Does your workplace have physical barriers when workers cannot keep distance from each other, good ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers?
- Do you have workers who may be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19? Some people may have reduced immunity due to age, pre-existing health conditions or medical treatments.
- Is your workplace able to offer alternative work for people who require accommodation, for example, remote work?
- Key Components of a Workplace Vaccination Policy (more details available below)
- Key Components in a Workplace Vaccination Policy
1. Identify the scope and purpose.
- Explain the purpose of the policy including the risks of COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect workers. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is more contagious, with greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization.
- Explain to who the policy applies. Will the policy apply to all workers, contractors, and/or agency staff? Is there a separate policy for customers?
- Have a clear communication plan to inform workers about the policy.
2. List action steps workers must take.
- When necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, workplace policies should require workers to provide proof of vaccination, with vaccines approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization. Alternatively, workers may need to:
- Indicate that they have a medical exemption, including if the reasons are temporary or permanent. The medical exemption should be written by a licenced doctor or nurse practitioner and does not need to include the reason for the exemption.
- Complete a vaccination education course, with a signed declaration stating that they understand the risks of COVID-19 and the benefits of vaccination. The vaccination education course should include information on:
- How the COVID-19 vaccines work;
- Vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
- The benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
- Risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19; and
- Possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.
See Educational Vaccine Resources for Workplaces below.
3. Set deadlines for when the actions must be taken.
Specify a reasonable date when workers must demonstrate compliance with the workplace policy.
4. List available supports for vaccination.
Demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers to get vaccinated. Ways to support workers to get vaccinated include:
- Providing vaccine information from credible sources or translated resources.
- Supporting vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers.
- Providing paid leave to get vaccinated.
- Reminding workers that they are entitled to up to three paid sick days if they have side effects from the vaccine.
- Offering incentives such as gift cards, prizes or company swag.
- Hosting an on-site vaccination clinic.
5. Provisions for Unvaccinated Workers
Your policy should list alternative options for workers who decline to get vaccinated for reasons protected by the Human Rights Act, or who are unable to complete their vaccination series for medical reasons. Some options to consider include:
- Use of additional PPE, frequent COVID-19 testing, worker relocation, and modified work or reassignments.
- In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers (who have only received one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series) are not be permitted to work in the outbreak area. Workers without vaccination records should be assumed to be unvaccinated.
- If reassignment is not possible, consider if unvaccinated workers may use vacation or unpaid leave until it is safe for them to return to the workplace.
Outline the potential consequences for workers who do not fulfil the requirements of the policy.
7. Privacy considerations
The policy should specify how the individual vaccination status of employees will be used by employers to mitigate the health-related risks of COVID-19.
Information about workers’ vaccination information must be protected in accordance with applicable privacy legislation. Knowing your workers’ vaccination status may be important to help you take appropriate action quickly, in the event of COVID-19 cases in your workplace, to protect employees, their families, and the general public.
When collecting information about a worker’s vaccination status:
- Identify ways to safeguard workers’ personal health information.
- Limit information collected to the worker’s name and date of vaccination for each dose.
- Keep worker vaccination information separate from their personnel file.
- Ensure personal health/vaccination information is kept in a secure manner and only used when required.
8. Staff contact
Identify who at your organization staff should contact with questions about the policy, to request an accommodation, or for more information on how to comply with the policy. The policy should also indicate the person to whom workers should provide proof of vaccination.
9. Continued adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures
Vaccination does not replace the need for strict adherence to established COVID-19 public health measures. Employers must continue to implement all COVID-19 prevention measures for their sector outlined in WDGPH and provincial guidelines including but not limited to: screening, physical distancing, wearing of masks and eye protection, hand hygiene, infection prevention and control, and a COVID-19 safety plan.
- Key Components of a Workplace Vaccination Policy
- COVID-19 and Ontario’s Human right Code – Questions and Answers (Ontario Human Rights Commission)
- COVID-19 vaccines and workplace health and safety (Government of Ontario)
- Paid Leave for Vaccination
Ontario workers may qualify for up to three days of paid sick leave under provincial legislation. The pay is at regular wages, up to $200 per day. Workers may take time off work to get vaccinated or if they have side effects from the vaccine. However, the three days are not in addition to existing paid sick days, if offered by the employer.
Employers may apply for reimbursement from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) for payment made under this sick leave program. The program is currently retroactive to April 19, 2021 and will end on September 25, 2021.
- Workplace Guidance after Vaccination
Vaccination and COVID-19 prevention measures in workplaces
Workplace vaccination policies are important tools to prevent workers from being exposed to COVID-19. COVID-19 prevention and control measures are still required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if it enters the workplace. After vaccination, continue to follow public health measures outlined in WDG’s Public Health’s guidance for workplaces and businesses to help keep your workplace safe.
Testing after Vaccination
Continue to screen employees daily using the worker and employee screening tool for COVID-19 symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated. If they have symptoms, ask them to go get tested. Vaccination can prevent severe illness from COVID-19, however, people can still spread the virus to others.
Self-Isolation after Vaccination
If an employee is fully vaccinated and then exposed to some who tests positive, they do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms. If they are fully vaccinated and have symptoms, they must self-isolate immediately and get tested. Follow guidelines outlined in the high-risk contact flow chart.
- Educational Vaccine Resources for Workplaces
- COVID-19 Vaccination Education Module (Toronto Public Health)
- About COVID-19 Vaccines (Ontario Ministry of Health)
- Vaccine Information Sheet (Ontario Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19: Awareness Resources (Government of Canada)
- Multi-language Vaccine Information (Government of Ontario)
- COVID-19 Vaccines and Workplace Health and Safety (Ontario Ministry of Labour)
- COVID-19 Vaccination: Making an Informed Decision (Lakeridge Health/Sunnybrook e-learning module)
Guidance for Positive Cases and Contacts
This link has been moved to the top of this page.
Rapid Antigen Testing Information
- Get Free Rapid Tests
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce – listing of local Chambers of Commerce offering rapid screening support for businesses
- COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Antigen Point-of-Care Testing
- PHAC - Rapid Testing in the Workplace: Information for employees – August 11, 2021
- Guidance for Protective Eyewear
- MOH - Guidance for Employers Managing Workers with Symptoms 48 Hours of COVID-19 Immunization
- MOH - Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace – June 15, 2021
- MOH - Meal and break periods at work during COVID-19 – July 5, 2021
- Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan
- COVID-19 Safety Checklists for Workplaces
- COVID-19 Sector-Specific Guidelines
- COVID-19 Guidance: Workplace Outbreaks
- COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Rapid Antigen Screening
- COVID-19 Guidance for Donation Programs
- COVID-19 Giving & Receiving Donations Info Graphic
- Ministry of Labour: Your break is not a break from COVID safety
- Ministry of Labour: Keep it to yourself during COVID
- Ministry of Labour: COVID should not be on the menu at lunch
- Ministry of Labour: COVID-19 Posters for Workplace
For additional posters, please visit our Signs and Posters page.
Safety Control Measures
- Disinfectants and Hand Sanitizers
- Physical Barriers for COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Commercial Settings
- PPE in the Workplace
Financial, Mental Health & Other Supports
More resources for workplaces
- PHAC: Reducing COVID-19 risk in Community Settings: A Tool for Operators
- Physical Barriers for COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Commercial Settings
- Carpooling Etiquette (Commute Ontario)
- Click on the tabs to the right and visit Ministry resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Pandemic (COVID-19) tip sheets to find more resources specific to your business sector.
- If employers have questions, WDG Public Health can assist by informing current policies.
- The Government of Ontario has made changes to legislation around meetings and business operations to help businesses follow physical distancing guidelines
Government of Canada
COVID-19: Your rights and responsibilities as an employee (includes info for managers)