Are there new employee guidelines regarding what they can reveal about their health?

Friday July 23 2021

Caroline Mboijana. PHOTO/FILE

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline, 
When the lockdown finally eases and employees are required to go back to the office, what can, and cannot, employers ask of employees from a health standpoint? James

Hello James,
Employers should always proceed with caution when asking employees about their health. While some employers are mandating the vaccine, others are managing how to transition back to the office without requiring vaccination.  All offices have adopted the standard operating procedure of wearing masks and social distancing.

But what we have discovered during the pandemic is that employers may be permitted to do a little bit more than they could before to protect the health and safety of employees. 

We definitely have seen a bit of a transition over the course of the pandemic that has given employers greater ability to make sure they are creating a safe workplace. The extent to which public employers can require their employees to undergo Covid-19 testing and whether those employers are entitled to know the results of such a test are increasingly being asked by employees. 

 As a result, the rules and regulations have had to stretch a bit to get past the “we don’t tell anybody anything about our medical conditions and our medical history,” but I think on balance, the conversation for employers is, you can certainly ask this question,but keep the information confidential.  From my perspective, it really means that employers need to be mindful of, “what is our policy going to be, and then how are we going to enforce it?”  

Generally speaking, employers can only require existing employees to undergo medical examinations when there are objective indications an employee is unfit to perform the essential functions of their jobs or would pose a significant health and safety risk to co-workers and the public.  


Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]