Can Employers Ask for Proof of Vaccination?

Vaccination rates are steadily rising in Ontario, and many companies are starting to look at bringing employees back into workspaces. The pandemic isn’t entirely over yet, and the province is still battling strong COVID-19 variants. This raises questions about whether or not employers can, and should, ask for proof of vaccination.


Can Employers Make the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory?

The answer to this question is complicated. Employers have an obligation to maintain healthy and safe workplaces and take all reasonable measures to do so. Ontario has even outlined COVID-19 health guidelines for businesses to follow.


When safety measures are required, and employees breach them, a “for cause” termination may be justified. However, public health authorities are only highly encouraging people to get vaccinated and have not made it mandatory. Employers should consider taking this approach, strongly encouraging vaccination but not yet demanding it.


New Hires vs. Current Employees

Requiring current employees to get vaccinated before returning to workplaces is more complicated due to existing employment contracts. Requiring it of new hires is more straightforward.


Many companies require pre-employment drug testing and criminal record clearances. Businesses could include COVID-19 vaccination proof as part of this as well. However, this should be made clear in advance.


Certain Industries May Require It

Vaccination might not be necessary for all industries, but certain job sectors may legitimately require mandatory vaccination. Certain front-line positions such as long-term care workers, nurses, doctors, and other hospital and critical care workers are in regular contact with vulnerable persons. In these work areas, requiring vaccination would be more than fair.


Employers Should be Flexible

COVID-19 vaccination rates are rising in Ontario, but there are still long waits for many people. Even those that want to get vaccinated might not have the option right now. There are also those that cannot get the vaccine due to health or religious reasons. Companies looking to make vaccination mandatory should be flexible and understanding when it comes to timelines and exceptions.


Incentives and Accommodations

Some employers are offering incentives to encourage vaccination among their employees, like paid time off inoculation, extra vacation time, or gift cards. This could be a gentle way to push employees that are on the fence about vaccination to do so.


Companies should also consider accommodation for vaccinated employees (or cannot be for valid reasons) that are uncomfortable working near those not vaccinated. Many employees have anxiety about returning to workplaces and being around large groups of people again, especially among those that are not vaccinated. Employers can absolve their fears by requiring unvaccinated people to wear masks while working, allowing those uncomfortable to work from home, and making workstations 6-feet apart.


Final Thoughts

Requiring proof of vaccination is a tricky topic and doesn’t have a clear answer. If you’re an employer considering making vaccination mandatory, our HR experts suggest you contact an employment lawyer to ensure you aren’t breaking any employment or human rights laws beforehand. If you’re legally cleared, start by having a conversation with your workers, give a reasonable timeline, and make sure you clearly communicate the requirement to any new hires ahead of time.


If you need staffing solutions, contact Nova Staffing today! Our team of employment experts has over 200 years of combined experience and is here to help.  


How Nova Staffing is Protecting Workers During COVID-19

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life in Ontario. While many businesses were able to transition to remote working, there are still a number of essential businesses that require employees to be there in person. As one of the best staffing agencies in the GTA, Nova Staffing prides itself on having all the highest health and safety measures for all employees. Here are the steps we’re taking to keep our employees and the workers we send out to clients safe.


Pre-Screening Questionnaire

Before sending out workers to our clients, we make sure to pre-screen them and ask them a list of questions provided by the Ministry of Health. This includes asking them if they’ve traveled recently, whether they have any symptoms, or if they’ve been exposed to anyone that has tested positive, been exposed, or showing symptoms. This ensures that we’re not sending out anyone who may be a COVID-19 risk.


Daily Forms

In order to protect the public and essential workplaces, Nova Staffing requires all of our workers to fill out and sign a form each day before starting work. These forms ask employees to sign stating they will adhere to all safety practices, including COVID-19 prevention efforts at client sites.


These forms include a daily screening sheet, which employees must sign off on before each shift stating whether or not they’ve been experiencing symptoms or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. This allows us and health officials to trace individuals who may be exposed or infected.


Health Monitors

At Nova Staffing offices and large clients, health monitors are in place to take staff temperatures daily before each shift. This helps screen employees every day before they enter the workplace in addition to the forms. All of our clients, and our own offices, have also heightened cleaning and set up sanitization stations in order to reduce the spread of the virus.


Our Commitment to Health and Safety

At Nova Staffing, keeping our employees, clients, and the public safe and healthy is our top priority. We have exceeded legislated COVID-19 requirements set forth by the Ministry of Health and will continue to do so while the pandemic is on-going.


We’re confident in sending our employees out to client sites, knowing that the employers we partner with are taking health and safety as seriously as we do. Nova Staffing continuously monitors COVID-19 information and makes changes as needed. We strongly encourage our employees to follow all public health recommendations when they are in the community to protect their health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.


If you are interested in learning more about how we can help ensure you have the right people and safety measures in place for your company, please reach out to us for more information:


5 Ways to Support Employees’ Mental Health

It’s safe to say the past year has been a struggle for just about everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic hit businesses and employees hard, both professionally and personally. It’s no surprise then that a recent study found that 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the pandemic began, not to mention seasonal winter blues. So, what can employers and managers do to check-in and support their teams during these trying times? Here are a few suggestions from our HR experts at Nova Staffing.


Be Vulnerable

One silver lining to the pandemic is that everyone has been hit, and it has normalized mental health challenges. Almost everyone has experienced some level of discomfort. Business owners and managers should start the mental health conversation and decrease the stigma by opening up about their own struggles. You don’t have to tell more than you’re comfortable, but letting employees know that those higher up have been struggling as well will let them feel more comfortable coming to you with their challenges.


Model Healthy Habits

A lot of companies say they support mental health, but very few actually model it. It’s one thing to tell employees to prioritize self-care and set boundaries, and it’s another for businesses to do it themselves. Share that you’re taking a staycation or a mid-afternoon walk. This will help employees feel more comfortable taking much-needed breaks themselves.


Check-In Regularly

Intentionally checking in with each of your employees is more important than ever. Now that many people are working from home, it can be harder to notice if someone is struggling. Make it a point to ask your employees if they’re doing OK. During these times, communicate more than you think you need to.


Be Flexible

This pandemic has shown that businesses that are flexible are the ones to survive. Being adaptable and flexible is key to managing stressful situations that may pop up, like a global pandemic! Employers should be open to the fact that employees are facing unprecedented challenges. Virtual learning or closed schools mean many working parents don’t have childcare. Health concerns may limit certain employees from coming in. Not all employees may have a quiet, dedicated workspace to operate from. Being flexible and accommodating will help alleviate stress for your employees and allow you to come together to find solutions.


Modify Procedures and Policies

Now is the time to update practices and policies to be more flexible and reflect the realities of the workplace today. Look at things such as work hours, communication practices, sick leave policies, and performance reviews. The ‘normal’ work environment doesn’t exist right now, so traditional procedures no longer fit.


Need help finding qualified candidates or other staffing solutions? Contact Nova Staffing today! With over 200 years of industry experience, our team of HR experts is ready to help. 


How Ontario’s Second Lockdown Will Impact Employment

Ontario has recently once again moved into lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While Toronto has seen some level of restrictions since the virus first hit the city, this will be a major blow for other parts of the province that have seen more freedom. One of the big questions employment agencies have been getting is how the second lockdown will impact employment and hiring. Here are a few things companies should get ready for.


More Remote Working

Get ready to see remote working reach new levels. One of the biggest things coming with the latest lockdown is that all non-essential employees who do not need to be in the workspace physically will now be required to work from home. That means employers who have adopted a hybrid work-from-home model or asked employees to return to offices will now have to embrace remote working again.


Back to Virtual Schooling

Working parents that chose to send their kids back to physical school will now have to get ready for virtual schooling once again. Employers should support parents during this time and try to understand that working parents now have to be employees, parents, and teachers. It’s a lot for anyone! Try to be more flexible with work hours and understanding if an issue arises.


Safety Plans

While remote working will increase once again with the lockdown, not all businesses will be impacted. There are still a number of industries, such as transportation, essential workers, and more, that will still have to go in. Ontario is requiring all businesses that are still open and operating to prepare a COVID-19 safety plan. Companies that are remote working should also take this time to come up with a safety plan for when employees do return again. Now is also a good time to evaluate sick day policies in light of the virus.


Final Thoughts

It’s still too early to know how the second lockdown will impact employment growth in the province. As with the first round of restrictions, certain industries will be hit harder than others. Employers should do everything they can to support employees during this time in order to boost efficiency and morale.


If you need help fulfilling job positions with quality candidates, contact us today! Nova Staffing is one of Toronto’s best employment agencies and has a team of HR experts ready to help you with all of your staffing needs.