Regulations effective October 1, 2021, indicate that all private sector employers in Saskatchewan may require employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or be tested on a regular basis. In addition, certain public sector employers must ensure that employees are fully vaccinated or provide regular negative COVID-19 tests. See our previous blog for more details on the requirements for public sector employers.
How It Works
The Saskatchewan Government recently published The Employers' COVID-19 Emergency Regulations (Regulations), which apply to private sector employers (i.e., all employers other than "public employers") and come into effect on October 1, 2021.
Under the Regulations, employers will be authorized to implement a vaccination or COVID-19 testing policy as part of their general duties as employers under The Saskatchewan Employment Act (Act). This includes a duty on employers to ensure the health and safety of workers as far as is reasonably practicable. Employees will have the option to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test to their employer at least every 7 days.
The Regulations indicate that employees who choose regular COVID-19 testing instead of vaccination must arrange to take COVID-19 tests during non-work hours and are responsible for the costs of testing, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer. Employees do not need to provide tests if they are on vacation or leave. The Saskatchewan Health Authority has said it will not provide tests to asymptomatic individuals except when they are identified as close contacts. Employees may use various private COVID-19 testing sites and COVID-19 assessment and treatment centres to obtain a COVID-19 test.
The Regulations indicate that employers who choose to implement a vaccination/testing policy must give "reasonable notice" to employees.
Employers will also need to establish a process for collecting and reviewing proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results. We expect that the Government may provide further guidance on collecting test results in the coming days. Employers must ensure that test results and information regarding vaccination status are kept confidential.
The Regulations are not necessarily comprehensive of all potential measures available to employers regarding vaccination policies prior to the Regulations or now that the Regulations are in place.
Proof of Vaccination
A Government press release dated September 28, 2021, states that employers may accept the following as proof of vaccination:
- the wallet card received at the time of immunization;
- a printed copy, screen shot, or earlier version of a MySaskHealthRecord vaccine certificate (with or without a QR code);
- a COVID-19 vaccine printout from Saskatchewan Health Authority Public Health; or
- a QR code/MySaskHealthRecord vaccine certificate uploaded to SK Vax Wallet.
Notably, the Regulations do not address proof of vaccination for public access to certain businesses. The Government has announced that patrons must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter certain businesses as of October 1, including restaurants, bars, events and entertainment venues, indoor fitness centres and gyms.
MLT Aikins LLP is continuing to monitor for further amendments and updates to public health orders that may regulate public access to businesses and other establishments. The Regulations do not necessarily remove all legal risks associated with implementing a proof of vaccination or testing policy. Employers with questions regarding the implications of the Regulations in their workplace or any questions regarding vaccination and COVID-19 testing policies are encouraged to contact our labour and employment law team.
On October 5, we will be hosting a webinar for Saskatchewan employers that are considering implementing vaccination policies. We'll cover how employers can ask employees to disclose their vaccination status and provide an overview of the different types of vaccination policies employers are using. Register now if you're interested in learning about how to implement your own vaccination policy.
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.