Daniel Wong, chair of WeirFoulds’ Employment Law Group, spoke with the Huffington Post about employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rights of both employers and employees.
In the article, a number of employment lawyers respond to Premier Doug Ford’s statements that construction workers — and any others who feel unsafe on the job — have the right to leave their jobs if they don’t feel safe working.
Ford’s government passed Bill 186 last week. The law provides job-protected leave to workers who have to stay home because they have been directed to quarantine or self-isolate by a medical or public health professional or because they have to care for a family member, including kids who are at home while schools are closed.
“It’s job-protected leave for very specific reasons,” explained Daniel Wong. “That’s different than a person saying, ‘I don’t feel that this is safe.’”
Wong said workers have the right to refuse unsafe work but it is a “different concept” than the type of leave covered in Bill 186.
“They can initiate what’s called a work refusal. And there’s a prescribed process under the Occupational Health and Safety Act that is triggered when a person raises that concern,” he said.
“That includes an employer conducting an initial investigation and inquiry into the worker’s concern and attempting to resolve it to the worker’s satisfaction. If the worker’s not satisfied, then the Ministry of Labour will get involved and an inspector will determine if the workers are safe or if certain things need to be changed.”
Visit huffingtonpost.ca to read the full article by Emma Paling.