As you know, last August the Employer announced its intention to introduce mandatory vaccination for all federal public service employees and implemented it in October with very little input from bargaining agents.
The policy included reviewing it periodically, and we are pleased to say that CAPE was invited to share its recommendations in a more substantial way this time around. Please find a summary of our suggestions and rationale for the policy below.
CAPE recognizes that the concerns related to the pandemic, despite being diminished, remain. As a result, the Association is of the view that it remains a legitimate requirement for the Employer to require that employees coming into the workplace be vaccinated. However, as only 0.2% or less of public service employees are unvaccinated and 1.3% requesting accommodation, it should be possible for the Employer to accommodate all employees who cannot or do not wish to be vaccinated. The practice of suspending individuals if they are unvaccinated should cease immediately. All unvaccinated employees should be provided with accommodations such as remote work, daily testing, PPE requirements, etc.
In the alternative, individuals who are not required to go into the workplace should not be required to provide proof of vaccination until such time as they are required to return to the workplace. There is no workplace health and safety rationale for requiring individuals who are working remotely to be vaccinated.
CAPE further believes that the Policy needs to adapt as the pandemic changes to ensure that the measures always reflect the needs as they exist when they are being applied.
As we viewed the policy as a temporary measure, CAPE proposes that milestones be established clearly outlining when the Policy will no longer be required.
It is CAPE’s position that, as the pandemic recedes, so too should the measures taken by the Employer.
The Association believes that the Privacy Act is not being followed as the access to proof of vaccination provided by employees is visible to all individuals based on hierarchy versus based on the need to know. The Policy should clarify who needs to have access to this personal and private information. This should be limited to only those who are responsible for obtaining and verifying the information.
The Policy should also specify when the information will be disposed of as it should not be retained longer than it is needed.