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  • Health Restrictions lifting - What YOU need to know

    In this bulletin we provide answers to key questions around testing and vaccination policy, masking / distancing requirements, and employer guidance on areas such as layoff provisions and occupational health and safety.
     
    We’ve focused on what we feel are the most important questions to owners / operators of construction businesses, and included resources to further information if you need it.
     
    Thank you for staying engaged, and never hesitate to let us know what you need next, we exist to serve you!

    Resource: OH&S Questions Answered.
    Resource: FAQ for Businesses & Workers.


    Testing
     
    1.   Can businesses implement COVID testing policies?
    Yes, so long as they follow all legal requirements and participation is voluntary.
     
    2.   Can businesses require proof of negative COVID tests before allowing individuals on their premises?
    Generally speaking, no. Vaccination is a personal health and wellness decision. In most cases, requiring vaccination or proof of vaccination is not something that an employer can mandate. More information on this in section 2 here
    Vaccination
     
    1.   Can employers implement mandatory vaccination policies? Can an employer legally request proof of vaccination if a worker is claiming they are vaccinated?
    Generally speaking, no. See the answer to Testing Question 2.
     
    2.   Can businesses/organizations require proof of vaccination before allowing individuals on their premises?
    Generally speaking, no. See the answer to Testing Question 2.
     
    3.   Will there be a medical accommodation in the workplace for people who are unvaccinated?
    Generally speaking, no. In most cases, not being vaccinated would not be considered a disability, however employers must evaluate accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis. More information on this in section 2 here.
     
    4.   With the orders lifted, are workers still able to access the vaccination leave?
    Upon request to an employer, workers are able to take a minimum of three consecutive hours of paid time off to receive one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during work hours.
    More information on this can be found on page 6 here.
     
    5.   Are employers responsible for paid time off if the worker has a reaction to the vaccine and needs to stay home or be hospitalized?
    No. If a worker needs to be away from the office as a result of a reaction to the vaccine they will need to use sick leave or other leave options that may be available to them. More information on this can be found on page 7 here.
    Masking / Distancing
     
    1.   Can businesses maintain mandatory masking requirements for all individuals on their premises? Can an employer require an unvaccinated worker to wear a mask?
    You can maintain mandatory masking if you wish, but it will not be enforceable by inspectors or the police. You cannot require an employee to tell you their vaccination status.
     
    2.   Will there be a requirement for physical distancing or capacity limits as it pertains to the workplace?
    No, physical distancing is no longer a requirement. Maximum capacity will be determined by pre-existing occupancy limits, such as fire code.
    Employment Standards
     
    1.   With respect to situations where the employer was temporarily protected against notice pay when laying off employees, will this condition still be in place when the emergency health order is lifted?
    No, employers will have 14 days once the orders are lifted to schedule employees back to the workplace or they would need to terminate the working relationship and provide pay instead of notice.
     
    Employees who have not been scheduled are considered terminated and pay instead of notice is due within 14 days. More information on this can be found on page 2 here.
     
    Tip: Keep a record of all contact attempts.
     
    2.   Do employees need to be returned to the same position with the same hours and rate of pay?
    Workers generally must be returned to work under the same terms and conditions that they had prior to the layoff. The employer should give the employee advance notice of any changes. An employee may not accept the changes, believe they have been terminated, and may decide to pursue a claim for pay instead of notice on the basis that their contract has been unilaterally broken without notice. More information on this question can be found on page 3 here.
     
    3.   The public emergency layoff provisions no longer apply, but I am not re-opening or unable to resume business do I still have to schedule employees back?
    While this is difficult, employees who are not scheduled by the end of the two weeks following the lifting of restrictions and state of emergency are entitled to pay instead of notice.
     
    4.   What if staff refuse to return to work?
    We encourage employers to listen to and address employee concerns with returning to work, however if employees don’t return to work as directed, they may end up being considered as having abandoned their job and therefore, resigned.
     
    5.   If an employer has seasonal staff, do they have to bring them back within 14 days of the orders being removed?
    There is no requirement to recall seasonal staff.
     
    6.   As an employer, when are the public emergency group termination notice exemptions over?
    Immediately after the end of the public emergency period. There is no two-week grace period, as with the public emergency layoff provisions. More information on this can be found on page 5 here.
     
    7.   Now that the orders are removed do I still require an exposure control plan? Can the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety still require me to show an exposure control plan to an officer?
    Now that the public health orders have been lifted, not all employers are required to have a COVID-19 exposure control plan. Employers must have a competent person conduct a hazard assessment to determine if they are required to develop a COVID-19 exposure control plan for their workplace.


    If you have additional questions regarding the removal of the public health orders, we want to hear them! Contact us so that we may find the answers for you.
     
    We do our utmost to provide members with digestible information. Always check saskatchewan.ca for more details, as it is updated frequently. 

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