On January 13, 2021, the Government of Ontario released Regulations in support of the provincial declaration of emergency.
Employers should be aware that, per Ontario Regulation 10/21 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act that:
“each person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall now ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely, unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.”
This workplace safety measure does not apply to operations or delivery of services by any government or any person or publicly-funded agency or organization that delivers or supports government operations and services, including operations and services of the health care sector.
Further, pursuant to Ontario Regulation 11/21 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act(“EMCPA”), every individual shall remain in their place of residence at all times with certain exceptions.
One of these exceptions is for working or volunteering where the nature of the work or volunteering requires the individual to leave their residence, including when the individual’s employer has determined that the nature of the individual’s work requires attendance at the workplace.
Employers permitted to open should therefore consider whether the nature of their employees’ work is such that it requires them to be on-site at the workplace in order to maintain compliance with these new measures.
When making such determination, Employers should critically assess the nature of the job to determine whether the worker is required to be on-site. This assessment may include a review of the job to determine the degree of integration the onsite work is for the business and whether there is a capacity to perform duties required for the job remotely.
Persons who fail to abide by the measures may be subject to fines and/or prosecution under the EMCPA and Reopening Ontario Act.