Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work for “Safety” Reasons?

As we (finally) get ready to reopen the economy, many workers fear the return to work. But how can the company balance the concerns of the worker against the need to reopen the business?

So long as employers provide the basic PPE as required under the Health Unit orders for their area, and “take every reasonable precaution” to protect worker’s health (social distancing, curbside pickups etc.) then NO, they cannot refuse to return.

If there is “protest” from the workers, or “doubt” from the employer, it is best to invoke the Work Refusal language under section 43 of the OHSA. The Ministry will send an inspector who can determine what (if any) further measures must be taken. There is no cost for this service. Once the MOL has determined that the risk level is acceptable, then the workers must return to work.

Get Ready to Reopen – Call Us for Your HR Needs!