My employee is invoking their “right to refuse” unsafe work – what do I do? - Retail Council of Canada

My employee is invoking their “right to refuse” unsafe work – what do I do?

Under provincial Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employees have a right to refuse work if they have reasonable grounds to believe it is dangerous to their health or safety. Remind your employees of the preventive measures that have been put in place, and the safety products available to them. This may help mitigate instances of employees refusing to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 Every employee has a duty to report any dangerous situation to their supervisor. The employer then has a duty to take remedial action by having the workplace health and safety committee and/or representative investigate. In some cases, a government health and safety officer may need to investigate as well. 

In some provinces, when one employee has made a report that an activity is ‘unsafe work’, until that report is resolved you may have an obligation either (a) to inform, or (b) not to ask other employees to undertake the alleged ‘unsafe work’ until the ‘unsafe work report’ is complete.

 The employer may choose to reassign work. In this case, the employee must receive the same wages and benefits as they would have received under their previous assignment.  

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