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September 30, 2020

Employers Required to Screen Workers Daily For COVID-19 Prior to Entry

Authors Brandin O'Connor and Kenji Nuhn

As of September 26, 2020, all Ontario workplaces are required to screen workers and essential visitors for COVID-19 before they enter the work environment. The change comes as a result of an amendment to Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3, which states that all workplaces are required to comply with the recommendations issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals. The Ministry of Health’s recommendations and COVID-19 screening tool can be found here.

The screening tool applies to most provincially regulated workplaces. Workplaces where screening measures are already regulated are excluded from having to use the screening tool (ex: health care facilities and congregate living settings).

The screening tool mandates daily COVID-19 screening for workers or essential visitors that enter the workplace. Essential visitors are defined to include individuals who provide services to the establishment (eg: delivery, maintenance, or contract workers). Workplaces do not need to screen patrons of the workplace (eg: customers), emergency service workers or first responders who enter the workplace for an emergency, or workers who work from home.

The following questions must be asked before a worker or essential visitor is permitted entry into the workplace:

  1. Whether the individual has the following new or worsening COVID-19 symptoms that are not chronic or related to other known causes or conditions:
    • Fever or chills
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Cough
    • Sore throat, trouble swallowing
    • Runny nose/stuffy nose or nasal congestion
    • Decrease or loss of smell or taste
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
    • Not feeling well, extreme tiredness, sore muscles;
  2. Whether the individual has traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days (essential workers who travel outside of Canada for work purposes should not be denied entry on this basis alone); and
  3. Whether the individual has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

Anyone who does not pass the screening questions should be denied entry into the workplace, required to self-isolate, and advised to call their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario to determine if they should take a COVID-19 test.

Individuals who pass the screening questions should be allowed to enter the workplace, but are required to report any symptoms they develop immediately.

The Ministry of Health notes that the screening tool may be adapted based on business circumstances.

Our firm will continue to provide you with updates as the Ontario Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

The foregoing is for informational purposes only and should in no way be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice tailored to your circumstances and business, please contact any of SOM LLP’s lawyers by email or telephone.

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