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The Employer’s COVID-19 Workplace Playbook

Author(s): Brian Thiessen, KC, Kelly O’Ferrall, Catherine Hamill, Lindsay Hofer

May 4, 2020

Last updated: December 9, 2020

For further information on the information provided below or other labour and employment matters please contact a member of our National Employment Group.

As the provincial governments in Canada adapt to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers must also quickly adjust their internal policies to reflect new government mandates. Irrespective of government announcements, employers will need to make their own determinations as to whether, when and how they will open, reopen and/or close their physical workplaces, keeping in mind their duties to their employees and stakeholders. Having a rational and documented plan in place for making such decisions will be necessary to reduce uncertainty and ensure a safe work environment. This guide outlines the key considerations for employers in putting together such plans. A comprehensive chart of return to work resources for employers from the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, the Canadian Federal Government and each Provincial Government and Provincial health authorities can be accessed via the link set out below.


Employers have a duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their workers. Employers are required to implement preventative measures to ensure workers are not exposed to conditions which could be harmful to their health and safety while working. Failure to ensure a safe workplace can lead to liability under occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation, including fines and penalties, and, in serious cases, criminal prosecutions and/or civil liability for employers not covered under the applicable workers’ compensation regime.

To meet their obligations to provide a safe workplace, it is imperative that employers update and implement (and in some cases post in the workplace) new health and safety policies and practices in their workplaces to address the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies and practices will, of course, vary from workplace to workplace, and province to province, but this guide highlights many of the common issues employers will need to address.

Most provinces have specific requirements regarding worker health and safety representatives or a joint health and safety committee comprised of management and non-management employees. There are requirements under OH&S legislation regarding the composition of safety committees and requirements regarding the frequency of safety meetings and workplace inspections, as well as record-keeping related thereto. Employers should ensure that their return to the workplace safety plans are submitted through the appropriate workplace safety processes.

Deciding whether and when to reopen a workplace, and whether to stay open

First, an employer must determine whether their physical workplaces can legally be open, based on current government orders and restrictions. As we have seen over the past many months, the restrictions on physical workplaces are continuously evolving.

Any breach of government orders could expose an employer to fines, and potentially increased OH&S compliance risk.

Once employers have determined that their physical workplaces can be or remain open (or reopen), employers will need to consider whether their physical workplaces can operate safely. This exercise consists of (i) assessing the workplace and determining whether the employer is able to satisfy its duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace by implementing controls to address the hazard of COVID-19, and (ii) implementing those controls.

Workplace controls to address the hazard of COVID-19 should align with the guidelines, mandates and orders in the employer’s jurisdiction. This guide outlines the current guidance (as of the date noted at the top of this Guide) available from authorities across Canada regarding the practical steps employers should implement to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. We expect all levels of governments and public health authorities will provide additional guidance over time as to additional measures employers should take to protect workers.

Assessing the COVID-19 hazard in the workplace

The first step for ensuring a safe workplace is to conduct a hazard assessment for COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, as required to comply with provincial OH&S legislation. Employers should keep in mind that they may have a duty to consult joint health and safety committees,  health and safety representatives and/or unions, and seek input from employees (including joint committees and worker representatives) on where potential transmission may occur and how they think COVID-19 transmission can be controlled.

Identifying hazards and developing measures to control exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace should be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the most recent guidance issued by the applicable workers’ compensation boards, ministries of labour and governmental bodies.

All decisions related to identifying hazards and developing measures to reduce COVID-19 exposure in the workplace must be taken on a reasoned basis, taking into consideration the most recent guidance by applicable workers’ compensation boards, ministries of labour, government and public health, as well as the employer’s duty of care to its employees, and in a manner consistent with the employer’s workplace health and safety policies, including those related to safety committees discussed above. Ensuring that all decisions – including the basis for such decisions (e.g., the public health recommendations on the day such decisions were made) – related to workplace health and safety are properly documented and reasonable is also important. Employers may also have a duty to post their COVID-19 return to work safety plan and/or policies on their website on in the workplace, as is the case in British Columbia and most workplaces in Ontario.

Specific considerations for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace

The safest way to keep employees from contracting or spreading COVID-19 is to eliminate or reduce physical contact between employees. This can obviously be accomplished by allowing employees to work from home or continue working from home, if possible. While we strongly suspect that effective work from home policies and procedures will be an invaluable tool for most workplaces going forward, work from home arrangements are not possible for everyone, and may not be a long-term solution that can be supported by most employers (or employees for that matter). Employers should consider staggering employees’ physical presence in the workplace, ongoing assessment of the employer’s hierarchy of controls, and evolving re-assessment of workplace hazards and policies. A mechanism wherein employees can submit feedback on the safety measures being taken in the workplace should also be instituted.

As employers progress from allowing an increasing proportion of employees who are working from home to physically return to the workplace, employers should consider the following hierarchy of controls to address the identified hazards related to COVID-19 in the workplace:

  • Engineering controls (i.e., physical distancing and physical barriers)
  • Administrative controls (i.e., adjusting policies and procedures to reduce risk)
  • The use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”)

We consider these types of controls in detail below:

Physical distancing measures for workplaces

Employers should implement engineering controls (i.e. measures for addressing a workplace hazard by either removing the hazard or introducing a barrier between the hazard and the worker) and administrative controls (changes in workplace policies or procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard) to ensure physical distancing requirements are maintained. Employers should keep in mind that physical distancing considerations do not only apply to interactions between employees; such considerations may also apply to interactions with customers, suppliers, patients, visitors and members of the public.

Employers could consider the following measures for reducing COVID-19-related risks in the workplace:



Key Considerations

Limiting the number of employees and others in the workplace

  • Encouraging employees to work from home if they are able.
  • Allowing only a minimum amount of staff to be in the physical workplace at any one time, by staggering shifts or rotating the days certain employees are permitted to be in the workplace.
  • Controlling the number of customers and other third parties entering and exiting the workplace.

Encouraging physical distancing at work

  • Limiting entrance and exit points. Consider whether emergency evacuation plans need to be updated to address changes to access points.
  • Rearranging workspaces and floor plans, including increasing separation between desks, workstations, and furniture or fixtures in common spaces such as lunchrooms, meeting rooms, waiting rooms, and washrooms. Examples include taping off every second urinal in a men’s washroom and removing chairs in common spaces to ensure adequate physical distance.
  • Controlling access to elevators and areas within the workplace, including updating key cards to limit access and limiting the number of people who may ride in an elevator at a time.
  • Adjusting scheduling, such as start/end times and breaks to reduce the number of people using common spaces (such as break rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms) and elevators at the same time.
  • Implementing signage to ensure distance is maintained, for example using taped arrows to indicate “one way” traffic in hallways, taping off waiting areas to prevent bottlenecks in small spaces such as washrooms, taping off areas around workstations, appliances, machines, photocopiers, etc. to indicate appropriate two-metre spacing.
  • Discouraging or cancelling all non-essential activities, social events and in-person meetings.
  • Staggering appointments and meetings with customers or other meeting attendees.

Limiting physical contact and minimizing interpersonal interactions

  • Installing physical barriers between workers or between workers and third parties. A common example of a physical barrier is the plexiglass partitions currently found in many grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Removing all communal items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as newspapers, magazines, and candy bowls.
  • Reducing or eliminating the sharing of tools and equipment (such as keyboards, pens and other tools) between employees, or if sharing is required, providing solution for employees to disinfect tools and equipment between uses.
  • Avoiding the provision or sharing of food, beverages, and food related items in the workplace including coffee makers, cutlery, mugs, etc.
  • Using technology to minimize interactions, such as using technology to share documents and going “cashless”.

Worker and workplace hygiene

  • Promoting regular and thorough hand-washing and good hygiene by employees and other individuals present in the workplace. For example, by ensuring employees have access to soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer, putting hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent places around the workplace, ensuring these dispensers are regularly refilled, and placing informational posters throughout the workplace.
  • Developing procedures for regularly scheduled enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace, particularly high-contact items such as doors, handles, faucet handles, keyboards, and shared equipment. Various provincial governments have provided guidance on cleaning practices and workplace hygiene, that can be found in the below list of Return to work Resources for Employers.
  • Evaluation of workplace environments as to whether ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the risk of transmission through the air.
  • Seeking out cleaning and disinfectant products that have an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). This ensures that the product is approved for use in Canada.
  • Ensuring that cleaning and disinfecting products are not expired.

Preventing potentially sick employees from being at work

  • Preventing symptomatic employees from attending the workplace by developing written policies and procedures employees must follow if they are sick or suspect they have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Requiring employees to complete a daily COVID-19 pre-screening, such as a COVID-19 self-assessment questionnaire prior to attending the workplace. Each province has published its own self-assessment tool that could be adapted by employers for this purpose (see below for further discussion regarding pre-screening).
  • Requiring employees to take a temperature test before entering the workplace, if appropriate. Note that this type of precaution is not without risk and care should be taken to ensure that employees’ rights are respected. It is also important to keep in mind the limitations of temperature checks; employees can be contagious prior to having a fever, so this measure will only be partially effective and should only be used as part of a more comprehensive screening program.

Implementing appropriate policies

  • Developing policies and practices to:
    • Limit nonessential travel to other locations or worksites.
    • Ensure that all employees are trained on all COVID-19 related policies and procedures, including up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (for example, transmission points, equipment cleaning processes, cough etiquette and handwashing).
    • Retain the names and contact details of stakeholders attending the worksite to assist public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the worksite. Such action should only be taken after carefully considering and adequately addressing the privacy related concerns this may raise.
    • Ensure that policies are kept up to date and being followed, for example through regular audits to ensure employees are maintaining appropriate physical distance.
    • Respond appropriately to employee concerns or refusals to work due to workplace health and safety concerns, including developing policies in advance in consultation with employers’ joint workplace health and safety committees or other employee representatives and appropriately implementing additional policies and controls to address hazards identified by employees on an ongoing basis.
    • Check with vendors, suppliers and landlords on measures they have implemented to manage COVID-19 related risks.

Evaluate policies and procedures regularly

  • Review policies, practices and procedures regularly and assess whether they are achieving the desired outcome.
  • Update policies and procedures regularly as the situation and available guidance changes.
  • Seek feedback from employees in the workplace on the effectiveness of policies, practices and procedures.


Active screening requirement

As discussed in our article, New (and mandatory) COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces, in Ontario there are mandatory pre-screening questions that must be asked before a worker or visitor should be permitted to enter the workplace. Beginning on September 26, 2020, employers were required to begin actively screening every employee (and all essential visitors) prior to allowing them to enter the workplace. The Ontario government later clarified that such pre-screening must, if possible, be active. Active screening requires employers to actively review information provided by employees about the state of their health to determine whether they may enter the workplace.

Pre-screening is also recommended by governments in other provinces. For example, New Brunswick’s government recommends that employers create a plan for active screening of their employees. Newfoundland & Labrador’s government also asks its employers to consider active screening. The Government of British Columbia mandated that businesses in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions must actively screen their workers in person between November 7 and 23. Finally, PEI’s government has also ordered active screening for its employers, including conducting temperature checks and repeated checks every five hours.

Even if active screening is not mandated, it is best practice for employers all over Canada to actively screen their employees prior to entering the workplace. In addition to pre-screening, it may also be advisable for employers to take steps to actively screen employees for symptoms while at work, so that they can quickly be removed from the workplace if symptoms develop.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees – face masks, gloves and eye protection

Where hazards related to COVID-19 cannot be eliminated through administrative and engineering controls, employers may consider the use of PPE in the workplace. PPE, which controls the hazard at the employee level, includes measures such as face masks, gloves and eye protection. Provincial governments have advised that PPE should only be used after all other controls have been considered and all feasible measures have been implemented (for example, refer to the following guidance from the Government of Ontario).

It is imperative that employees be trained on how to use PPE correctly, including fit, use, putting it on and taking it off, maintenance, cleaning, and disposal, as well as training on the limitations of PPE.

If PPE is necessary to control risks related to COVID-19, employers should consider what, if any, PPE the employer can provide. Regardless of the measures that are taken, it is important to ensure that safety measures are informed by governmental and public health guidance.

Requiring the use of face masks, in particular, has been a common consideration for employers contemplating a return to the physical workplace. The current advice from Canada’s Chief Medical Officer is that individuals should wear a non-medical face mask when they are unable to maintain proper physical distance from others. A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of an individual’s respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces. The use of a non-medical mask is primarily to protect an employee’s co-workers, as opposed to protecting the individual wearing the mask.

The Government of Canada  recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones and when physical distancing isn’t possible. It also recommends wearing masks made of at least three layers, with two of those layers being tightly woven fabric, with a filter between layers.

Most provinces require that masks be worn in all indoor public settings. Québec requires, for people aged 10 and over, to wear a face mask/covering on public transit and in enclosed/partially enclosed public spaces. Ontario has made it mandatory for all businesses/organizations to ensure that anyone in their indoor areas or vehicles wear a mask or face covering. British Columbia also mandates that those 12 years of age and older wear masks in many indoor public spaces. Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also implemented province-wide mandatory mask laws in indoor public spaces. Effective November 19 and 20, 2020, respectively, Saskatchewan and PEI have also joined the list of provinces requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces. The Yukon is the first territory to make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces, effective December 1, 2020. Several municipal jurisdictions in Canada have also passed by-laws making mandatory face masks in public. For example, in Toronto, most employees working in retail stores, grocery stores, malls and shopping plazas, restaurants and bars, recreation facilities, personal services settings, common areas in hotels, and community centres, among others, are required to wear face masks or face coverings when in public enclosed spaces (see here for information on the Toronto Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw). Moreover, while certain provinces have not made masks mandatory province-wide, they have mandated them to be worn in all public indoor settings in their higher-risk municipalities. For instance, Manitoba has mandated that masks be required in all indoor public spaces in Winnipeg, and Alberta has mandated that masks be worn in all places of worship and all indoor workplaces in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.

Health Care Professionals have made strong recommendations for mandatory face mask coverings, and because municipalities have for the most part lead the changes by introducing mandatory face mask by-laws, changes to the applicable laws on mandatory face mask coverings are rapidly evolving and may outpace the regular updates to this publication. Accordingly, employers should contact a member of the Osler Employment & Labour group for up to date advice on applicable municipal and provincial laws regarding mandatory face mask laws in jurisdictions in which they operate.

If employees are required or encouraged to wear masks in the workplace, the employer should consider supplying those masks. Any provision of masks to employees should be accompanied by a policy on non-medical face masks and training for employees on how to properly use a non-medical mask, as well as their limitations (as described above). Further, in workplaces where employees are required to wear masks pursuant to the Toronto Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw, the employer must:

  • Create a mask policy.
  • Communicate the mask policy to staff and customers.
  • Train staff on the policy and who is exempt.
  • Require that all staff, customers or visitors wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions, including children under two years of age, people with certain health conditions, and employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier.
  • Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask.

Note also that face masks and coverings are distinct from plastic face shields, which are generally not accepted as substitutes for non-medical masks.

Ontario’s Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) notes that gloves are not always necessary but may be recommended for employees who will be in contact with someone who is ill or a surface that is contaminated.  Employees should understand that gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene (i.e. proper and frequent hand washing or using hand sanitizer) or for appropriate social distancing measures.

Antigen testing

Antigen testing has been a hot topic recently as another method that employers may use to manage the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. Antigen testing is a type of rapid testing technology that produces results in as little as 20 minutes. Such a test may be useful in managing high-risk workplaces, situations where the employees may be unable to properly social distance, or environments where there is a risk of future outbreaks. While the technology is still new and its uses are still somewhat limited, employers may want to consider adding rapid testing to their toolkits at some point in the future, as discussed in further detail here.

How to handle symptomatic employees

Employers should develop an infection prevention and control plan that includes procedures for responding when an employee, customer, or other individual present in the workplace becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19. Such a plan could include (i) procedures for isolating and transporting the individual home if they begin showing symptoms at the workplace and (ii) steps to take if an employee or other individual tests positive for COVID-19 shortly after attending the workplace, including notifying other employees of potential exposure. Employers should also be aware that they may have an obligation to report COVID-19 transmission in the workplace to their provincial health authorities.

Employees who appear to have symptoms (for example, fever, cough, or shortness of breath[1]) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. If an individual does not have their own transportation, the employer should support them in arranging transportation home. Individuals should avoid taking public transit if at all possible. In fact, symptomatic or sick individuals are prohibited from taking public transit in certain provinces, including Alberta. Every person is required to wear a mask or face covering on public transit in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Vancouver. If an employee will use a rideshare service to get home, it may be necessary to provide the employee with a mask and direct the employee to ensure that the vehicle’s windows are rolled down to improve ventilation.

If the employee is able to be tested, the employee should not be allowed to return to the workplace until the employee tests negative for COVID-19 and has completed any self-isolation period mandated by public health authorities. For example, the current recommended self isolation periods recommended by Toronto Public Health can be found here . If the employee is unable to be tested, the employee should not return to the workplace until the employee has completed any mandated self-isolation period and is free of symptoms.

Accommodating employee requests not to return

There are a variety of unique challenges employees are facing and there are a number of reasons a worker may be unwilling or unable to return to work. Employers should consider and develop policies for the following situations:

  • Higher risk employees: Certain individuals may be at greater risk of having more severe complications if they become infected with COVID-19. According to the Government of Canada, individuals at higher risk include older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and people with medical conditions including heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, diabetes and cancer. Recommendations for higher risk employees may include implementing:
    • A self-disclosure policy whereby employees can disclose that they are at a higher risk (without disclosing any personal details or sensitive medical information).
    • Mitigation measures if the employer is or becomes aware that an employee is at higher risk (for example, working from home).
  • Employees with childcare issues or caring for a sick relative: In some provinces, employees are eligible for job protected leaves if they are required to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 (i.e. school closure or sickness). If an employee requests to take a certain unpaid statutory leave of absence and meets the qualifying requirements of that statutory leave, the employer must grant it and may be precluded from terminating the employee’s employment for the duration in the leave. For employees making such requests, employers may consider:
    • Permitting the employee to work from home, if possible.
    • Whether the employee is eligible for paid leave in accordance with the employer’s existing contracts, policies and practices.
  • Employees concerned about workplace safety: Subject to applicable OH&S legislation, workers have a statutory right to refuse work if the worker believes on reasonable grounds that the work constitutes a danger to the worker’s health and safety. OH&S legislation varies by jurisdiction, but requirements related to work refusals generally include the following steps:
    • the employee must report the hazard to the employer;
    • the employer must take any necessary corrective action in a timely manner to address the reported hazard;
    • if an employee believes their workplace is still unsafe, the employee may make a complaint to the OH&S authorities in their jurisdiction; and
    • OH&S officers have authority to enforce OH&S legislation in a number of ways, including conducting inspections, issuing orders, writing violation tickets and issuing administrative penalties.

Employers should consult legal counsel where an employee has exercised their right to refuse to work to inform themselves of the applicable procedure in their jurisdiction.

  • Employees are entitled to statutory leaves of absence: In some circumstances, employees who are ill, need to self-isolate or care for someone who has had to self-isolate may be entitled to a leave of absence pursuant to applicable employment standards legislation.

Other employees may have non-specific health concerns regarding the general risks associated with COVID-19, including with respect to taking public transit and other non-workplace matters. In these cases, no specific statutory duties may be triggered, but employers should strive to treat employees consistently in responding to these types of concerns.

Employers should ensure that their accommodation policies and practices address these issues fairly and in accordance with their legal obligations pursuant to applicable human rights legislation. Human rights commissions across Canada have published policy statements and general principles regarding COVID-19 and an employer’s human rights obligations. Human rights commissions within Canada have provided very clear guidance that employers should be sensitive to a variety of factors affecting an employee’s ability to attend the workplace such as caregiving responsibilities or pre-existing health problems (for example, if the employee has a compromised immune system). See, for example, Alberta’s guidance here.

Employers should consider developing a decision matrix regarding employee objections to returning to the workplace so that legal risks are identified and the employer complies with its legal objections in responding to all such objections.

Looking ahead: Adjustments to policies and contracts as a result of COVID-19

In conjunction with addressing workplace safety issues as described above, it will be important to consider what workplace policies and practices need to be updated, supplemented or replaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to adapting workplace health and safety polices to the “new normal” as described above, employers should consider if any of their policies need to be updated. For example:

  • Travel: Earlier in the year, we saw many employers scrambling to amend their travel policies to provide for travel restrictions and quarantine periods. As of the date of this publication, the Government of Canada has mandated that all travellers arriving in Canada must quarantine for 14 days if they do not exhibit symptoms. If they exhibit symptoms, they must isolate for 14 days. If an international traveller is arriving at Calgary International Airport or Coutts land border, they may be eligible for a reduced quarantine time as per the Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program, starting November 2, 2020.
  • Time off: Most employers’ sick policies do not sufficiently address considerations related to COVID-19. For example, time off during quarantine periods should be expressly addressed. Time off policies should be clear on whether leaves of absence will be paid or unpaid. As noted above, various Provinces have introduced amendments to job protected leaves as a result of COVID-19 and employers’ policies will have to be adjusted to comply with these amendments.
  • Work from home: As described above, working from home is likely to be a tool that employers use to maintain workplace safety going forward. Work from home policies should address mandatory and optional work from home arrangements (as applicable) and considerations related to security, privacy, and acceptable use of company equipment.  Whether any current work from home arrangements will be time-limited to the current situation involving COVID-19 should be expressly set out in the employer’s policies.

Employment contracts should also be reviewed to ensure they appropriately address various issues which the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront, such as temporary layoffs. Employers may also want to consider whether their employment contracts have effective termination clauses, especially in light of recent important court decisions (such as those discussed here), as well as provisions regarding changes to duties, compensation, and work location.

Return to work resources for employers



Government of Canada:

Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers

Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces during COVID-19

Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers (COVID-19): List of hand sanitizers authorized by Health Canada

Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice

Laws and regulations protecting Canadians

COVID-19: How to Safely Use a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Designing an Effective PPE Program


Government of Alberta:

Guidance for Workplaces

Workplace Guidance for Business Owners

Guidance for Managers and Operators of Industrial Work Camps

Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy

Alberta Biz Connect

Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program

COVID-19: Mask Requirements

Enhanced Public Health Measures

COVID-19 Leaves

City of Calgary: City of Calgary Mask Bylaw

Alberta Human Rights Commission:

COVID-19 and Human Rights

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety:

Information for Employers: Respiratory Viruses and the Workplace

Respiratory Protective Equipment – An Employer’s Guide

Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board:

COVID-19 Employer Fact Sheet

COVID-19 News and Announcements

British Columbia

WorkSafe B.C.:

Creating and managing a healthy and safe workplace

What employers should do

COVID-19 Industry information

Government of B.C.:

Handling Absences & Other Disruptions

COVID-19 Leaves

B.C. Centre for Disease Control:

COVID-19 Prevention and Risks

Protecting Workers at Large Industrial Camps During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tools and strategies for safer operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 and Food Businesses

Employers & Businesses



Government of Manitoba:

Ensure Safe, Healthy Workplaces

Key Responsibilities of Employees, Managers and Employers

Temporary Amendments to Termination of Employment Regulations

Workplace Facemasks

Right to Refuse Dangerous Work

Restoring Services: Phase 3

Manitoba Workers’ Compensation Board:

How the WCB is Responding to COVID-19

New Brunswick

Government of New Brunswick:

COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses

Guidance Document of General Public Health Measures During COVID-19 Recovery


COVID-19 Health and safety measures for workplaces

COVID-19 Prevention Tool for Workplaces

Workplace health and safety, and the coronavirus

Newfoundland and Labrador

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador:

COVID-19 Workplace Information

COVID-19 Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Employers

Information Sheets for Businesses and Workplaces

Risk-Informed Decision Making Guidance for Employers Operating During COVID-19

COVID-19 Guidelines for Employers

Special Measures Order (Masks)

Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador:

COVID-19 and Human Rights – Best Practices


COVID-19 Client Service Update

Nova Scotia

Government of Nova Scotia:

What the Health Protection Act Order means for your business or organization

COVID-19 - occupational health and safety

Nova Scotia Mandatory Mask Policy

Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia:

COVID-19 Resource Hub


Government of Ontario:

Sector-Specific resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace

Developing a COVID-19 workplace safety plan

COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open

Public Health Ontario:

IPAC Recommendations for Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Care of Individuals with Suspect or Confirmed COVID-19

Ontario Human Rights Commission:

Policy Statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 and Ontario’s Human Rights Code – Questions and Answers

Toronto Public Health:

COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces / Businesses and Employers

COVID-19: Reduce Virus Spread, Face Masks & Coverings

COVID-19: Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw

COVID-19: Have Symptoms or Been Exposed

COVID-19: Orders, Directives & Bylaws

City of Ottawa: Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board:

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update

FAQs about claims and COVID-19

Workers Health & Safety Centre

COVID-19 Virtual Training Courses

COVID-19 Resources

Prince Edward Island

Government of Prince Edward Island:

COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses

Employers - COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Masks to Become Mandatory in Prince Edward Island

Workers’ Compensation Board of PEI:

COVID-19 and Workers Compensation Claims

COVID-19 Toolkit


Gouvernement du Québec:

Questions and answers pertaining to employers and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Health Recommendations for Everyone

Wearing a face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Institut national de santé publique du Québec:

COVID-19 Interim Recommendations by Industry

Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail:

Leaves and Absences (Sickness or accident)


Government of Saskatchewan:

COVID-19 Information for Businesses and Workers

COVID-19 Workplace Information

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines

Appropriate Use of PPE Guidelines

Cloth Mask Guidelines

Managing Staffing and Leave

Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board:

Information for employers on COVID-19


Government of Yukon

Wearing a Mask in Yukon During COVID-19

COVID-19 and the Workplace

Workplace Self-Check Guide

Northwest Territories/Nunavut


Workers’ Safety Compensation on COVID-19

Workplace Guidance on COVID-19


U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

World Health Organization:

Getting your Workplace Ready for COVID-19

Transmission of COVID-19 Scientific Brief

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP:

Coronavirus: Navigating legal implications and business impacts


The authors would like to thank Carolyn Denault, Abigail Ywaya, Irmak Aydemir and Madeleine Blouin for their important contributions to this article.


[1] Generally, symptoms include one or more of the following: fever or chills, cough, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, a rash on skin, discolouration of fingers or toes, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement. The exact list of symptoms varies depending on jurisdiction. Consult local public health authority for list of symptoms.



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