Notice: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and occupational health and safety

Responding to the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in federally regulated workplaces

There may be concerns from employers and employees in Canadian federally regulated workplaces about coronavirus and questions about how to prevent exposure in their workplaces.

Workplace parties should consider whether doing certain tasks puts employees at greater risk of exposure to coronavirus. Also consider whether the Hazard Prevention Program needs extra controls or protections.

To change the Hazard Prevention Program, the employer must consult the policy or workplace health and safety committee or representative.

The employer must inform and train employees on any changes to the Program, including any new personal protective equipment they provide.

Are you an employer or employee in a federally regulated workplace? Do you have concerns or questions about coronavirus? Contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 (toll-free).

Roles and responsibilities

The Labour Program is responsible for administering Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code).

The Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for preparing for and responding to any infectious disease emergencies that may happen in Canada.

Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees while at work.

Employer responsibilities under Part II of the Canada Labour Code

Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of employees at work. They are required to implement preventative measures to ensure employees are not exposed to conditions that could be harmful to their health or safety while working.

If there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19 for employees while working, employers must:

identify the riskassess the risk, andimplement proper controls through their Hazard Prevention Program

If the employer requires personal protective equipment, they must provide training and procedures to employees. Employees must comply with the employer's procedures.

Employee rights under Part II of the Canada Labour Code

Under the Code, employees have 3 basic rights:

the right to know

the right to participate,

and the right to refuse dangerous work

Definition of danger: "any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered.

For more information about refusal to work under Part II of the Code: Right to refuse dangerous work

Hazard Prevention Program

Supporting the Internal Responsibility System, the employer must make all revisions to the workplace Hazard Prevention Program by consulting with:

the policy health and safety committee

the workplace health and safety committee, or

the workplace health and safety representative

Employees must be provided with training on the hazard and the safe work procedures that will protect them. Employers must keep training records.

Employees’ entitlements and leaves of absence

The Code provides employees in federally regulated workplaces with a number of job protected leaves if they are ill or if they need to take care of their family. This includes:

Medical leave

Personal leave

The Code establishes minimum requirements. If a collective agreement or arrangement providing better protections exists, the most favourable provisions apply.

For more information: Types of leaves offered to employees in federally regulated workplaces

Reporting requirements

Do your employees refuse to work because of the coronavirus (even if an investigation has been conducted internally and concluded no danger)? Is there a confirmed case of coronavirus? As an employer, you should immediately advise the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 (toll free).