Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has provided new guidance with respect to completing Records of Employment (ROEs) for employers who have terminated employees due to non-compliance with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.

New Guidance

An employer is required to fill out an ROE when an employee separates from employment or takes a leave of absence. "Block 16" on the ROE is used to indicate the reason for the employee's leave or separation from employment, or why the ROE is being issued.

With respect to reasons related to the COVID-19 vaccination, the ESDC website now states that Block 16 should be completed as follows:

  • When the employee does not report to work because they refuse to comply with your mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of Absence).
  • When you suspend or terminate an employee for not complying with your mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, use code M (Dismissal).
  • Where the above codes are used, ESDC may contact the employer to determine:
    • if it has adopted and clearly communicated to all employees a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy,
    • if the employees were informed that failure to comply with the policy would result in loss of employment,
    • if the application of the policy to the employee was reasonable within the workplace context, and
    • if there were any exemptions for refusing to comply with the policy.

 The following codes may also be used in Block 16, for reasons related to COVID-19 more generally:

  • Code A (Shortage of Work) – when the employee is no longer working because the business has decreased operations or closed due to COVID-19; and
  • Code D (Illness or Injury) - when the employee is sick or quarantined.

Our Thoughts

Although not explicitly stated on the ESDC's website, the new guidance suggests that if an ROE is filled out as indicated above, and the ESDC is satisfied with the employer's responses to its inquiries, the claimant may be denied employment insurance benefits in connection with their separation from employment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.