Canada

Questions around Sask’s proof-of-vaccine policy: will employees need to be vaccinated Oct. 1?

Saskatchewan residents are just days away from having to show proof of vaccination to gain entry to some businesses, but many still have questions about how the system is going to work.

A lack of clarification is causing a lot of confusion about who needs to show proof and who doesn’t.

Read more: COVID-19: How Saskatchewan’s proof-of-vaccine policy — and exemptions — will work

Proof of vaccination, or a negative test, will be required for public access to a number of businesses such as bars, gyms and indoor music venues.

But, do these public health rules apply to the people working there?

“Whether or not the employees are considered to be public access is going to be the big question,” said Steve Seiferling, of Seiferling Law, a labour and employment boutique law firm in Saskatoon.

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Saskatchewan brings mandatory masks back, proof of vaccination coming Oct. 1 – Sep 16, 2021

Seiferling said that for now, it’s confusing whether the public health measures mean staff need to be vaccinated the same as customers.

If the public health orders don’t extend to employees, he said individual employers can legally mandate vaccines for staff.

Read more: COVID-19: Colour-coded COVID-19 risk framework approved in Saskatoon

“It is probably going to be considered a reasonable rule during the pandemic while the public health emergency order is in place, then,” he said.

“You’re going to have to make a choice of getting it or taking a leave of absence, or leaving the workplace.”

QR codes temporarily removed from Sask. COVID-19 vaccine records due to ‘privacy breach’

The public health orders are leaving many in the service and hospitality industry worried about what will happen when rules are implemented Friday.

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“It is a very grey area right now as to what the rights are of an employer or of the employee,” said Hospitality Saskatchewan CEO Jim Bence.

He said many in the industry are more worried about keeping customers in line. That leaves them with questions, he said: “How is it that we manage the interaction with the customer? What do we look for and what do we do if they don’t necessarily want to comply with the guidelines?”

Read more: COVID-19 hospitalizations reach new high as Saskatchewan adds 2 deaths

Meanwhile, Seiferling said there are still many questions unanswered.

“What if a business owner is choosing not to get vaccinated, for whatever reason, are they caught by this public health order where they can’t go into their own business because that’s considered public access?” he said.

Ultimately, he and Bence said more clarity is needed from the province as businesses prepare for the public health orders to take effect Oct. 1.

Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan ministry of health for clarity on whether public health orders extend to employees. No one was available for comment by deadline.

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