Is your business hiring employees to work in-person? As sectors of the economy begin to reopen and employers look to fill numerous roles throughout their operations, it’s crucial to make sure you have put critical policies and considerations in place. Hiring for in-person roles in the age of COVID and beyond can be more complicated than it appears – but it doesn’t need to be! Below are some key items everyone organization and hiring team should review before bringing new staff into the workplace.
- Use a written employment contract. The key to a successful relationship is setting clear expectations between the parties. This is most effectively done in writing. In particular, employers should ensure that they have clear, enforceable termination provisions to avoid wrongful dismissal actions when the employment comes to an end.
- Put policies in place and communicate them to employees. One of the most important policies a business can have is a discrimination, bullying and harassment policy. This fosters a positive work culture and provides a framework to deal with any discrimination, bullying or harassment incidents that may occur, protecting your company from human rights complaints and other kinds of legal action. Other policies employers should put in place include privacy policies, drug & alcohol policies, and social media policies.
- Get familiar with the Employment Standards Act. The Employment Standards Act (the “Act“) sets the minimum rights and obligations of employees and employers, such as minimum wages, hours free from work, vacation time and pay, over time, and notice of termination. Pursuant to the Act, employers must proactively provide information to employees about their minimum rights under the Act. If minimum standards are not being met, employees may make complaints to the Employment Standards Branch which may give monetary penalties to the employer.
There have been various updates to the Act to address the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, until December 31, 2021, employers must provide a paid leave of up to 3 hours to any employee who takes time off work to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Develop a communicable disease prevention plan. Per WorkSafeBC and provincial health guidelines, all employers must develop a communicable disease prevention plan. Businesses might also consider if they are able to collect information about the vaccination status of their workforce. Whether or not an employer can collect such information or require employees to be vaccinated prior to starting employment is highly contextual and involves a balancing of public health and an employer’s obligation to maintain a safe workplace with employees’ privacy rights and human rights. Legally, it is still an evolving analysis based on the nature of the workplace, the ongoing status of the pandemic and any applicable provincial health orders. If you are an employer considering collecting vaccination status information about your employees, you should talk to a lawyer for advice.
Hiring the right staff, the right way goes a long way to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, along with a happy and workforce. Reach out to our team for help during this process.