CHAUDHRI: Vaccine Mandate May Leave Thousands of City Workers Unemployed

Article content

Unemployed by Christmas is the future thousands of Toronto city workers could face if they go unvaccinated for much longer.

Commercial

Article content

A few weeks ago I wrote about the worker shortage that unvaccinated employees would create. The wheels are now in motion.

This week, the City of Toronto has revised its vaccination policy which requires all remaining unvaccinated city employees to receive the vaccine by November 1. If they don’t, employees will be suspended without pay for six weeks. Those who don’t get vaccinated during the suspension period will face layoff less than two weeks before Christmas.

By my calculations, this will affect more than 3,200 City employees who, as of October 5, revealed that they were partially vaccinated or not vaccinated. Presumably those who did not disclose their vaccination status will also be suspended, which could increase the number to more than 4,700.

Commercial

Article content

Essentially, a group of employees the size of a small town is about to face consequences like we’ve never seen before.

I see this unfolding in various ways.

The first and most likely outcome is the city offering severance packages to unvaccinated employees in December. While some attorneys are calling for employees to be fired for good cause if they don’t get vaccinated, that advice doesn’t seem to take business realities into account.

The fact is that the legal costs and risks associated with defending a position “for cause” are too high and the city of Toronto is likely not to choose that path. Firing long-term employees for good cause makes an employer appear insensitive and insensitive, a major drag on the morale of those who remain employed.

Commercial

Article content

Another important consideration is the union pressure the city will face when thousands of employees are suspended. For example, CUPE 416 filed a policy complaint the day after the city reviewed its mandate.

To avoid weeks of arbitration and the ensuing legal costs, I predict that the city will leave employees as if they were fired without cause in December.

The second, less likely but possible outcome is that the city responds to union pressure and further revises its vaccination policy to allow employees more time (perhaps until spring) to get vaccinated while remaining employed. . Unions will file policy complaints to slow down the city. The city has already provided employees with several months’ notice of their vaccination mandate, but the legal system always favors more time to adhere to a policy.

Commercial

Article content

The city carefully crafted an extensive schedule and education-focused plan that allowed employees enough time to get vaccinated with multiple opportunities for even the most resilient employee to avoid the consequences. If the city cannot reach an agreement with the unions on the departure of unvaccinated employees, the city can lengthen the track to ensure that employees are given every opportunity to avoid layoff.

The last and most unlikely possibility is that the city will fire unvaccinated employees for good cause. In this scenario, employees do not receive any compensation, regardless of their years of service. The idea here is that by not receiving the vaccine, employees have effectively been banked. They have chosen to leave the labor society through no fault of the city and have themselves violated their own labor agreements, leaving them without the right to pay.

Commercial

Article content

Another version of this option is that the city claims that these employees’ work arrangements are “frustrated” and they only pay the legal minimum payments in the event of dismissal.

Regardless of the way the city is going, we know for a fact that Toronto’s future does not include continued employment of the unvaccinated. A sea of ​​changes is coming in the world of employment. Are you ready for it?

We apologize, but this video could not be loaded.

To this week’s questions:

Q. I have worked for a long time at my manufacturing employer. I have had no problems with others or with discipline. My employer says I need to show proof of vaccination and I don’t want to do this. I work from home. If I am fired, will I get anything? Can they really fire me?

A. Employers enforcing vaccine mandates are generally doing so to create a safe workplace for employees. Employers must provide safe work environments for their staff. Unless you have a legally qualified exemption from the mandate (religious or medical), your employer may determine that you cannot continue to employ you and also provide a safe work environment for all of your employees. There are many reasons why you may not want to get the vaccine, and if you are fired, it is worth talking to your employer and an attorney to explore what a fair exit package would be.

Commercial

Article content

Q. I was laid off after 18 years and my employer just informed me that it is due to a COVID-19 layoff. I do not have a letter of rescission. I have not received anything, but I am not sure if I am entitled to something because I was fired during COVID.

A. You are entitled to compensation for damages as a result of the termination of your employment. COVID doesn’t change that. If you worked for 18 years, you may be entitled to a substantial amount of damages for wrongful termination from your employer. My advice is to apply for a severance package and get legal advice to make sure it is in line with what a court would award you.

Do you have a problem in the workplace? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may appear in a future column.

The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

    Commercial

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Comment

x