The Ontario Government now requires most Ontario businesses and organizations to implement a workplace screening tool that requires staff members and essential visitors to complete a medical questionnaire before entering the workplace each day. This new requirement is established under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 and became effective on September 26, 2020.
Who Must Be Screened
The screening tool should be implemented by employers for:
- “Staff members”, including employees, contractors and volunteers (“workers”), and
- “Essential visitors,” including those otherwise providing a service to the workplace, such as couriers, maintenance workers, or contract workers.
This screening requirement does not apply to customers or first responders.
How and When to Screen
The workplace screening tool provides specific questions that must be adopted by Ontario employers. However, the questions can be supplemented to meet the needs of each particular workplace.
An individual only passes the required screening if they answer “no” to all of the questions. If an individual does not pass the screening protocols, they are not permitted to enter the workplace.
Employers must ensure screening procedures are conducted before the worker arrives at the workplace, or when their workers enter the workplace at the beginning of their day or shift.
Document Retention & Privacy Policies
The Ontario Government has not released clear guidance on how to handle the documents associated with screening. We recommend:
- Following your organization’s document retention and privacy policies;
- Maintaining general records (e.g. a pass / fail log) to ensure you can demonstrate general compliance;
- Ensuring the questionnaires are kept confidential and only seen by personnel that are necessarily involved in administering the process;
- Securely and immediately destroying any questionnaires that simply confirm the employee is fit to enter; and
- Retaining the questionnaires that confirm the employee is not fit to enter the workplace in accordance with your organization’s document retention, accommodation and privacy policies.
Employers who were already administering a screening questionnaire should ensure that the specific questions set out in the workplace screening tool are included in their questionnaires. Employers who were not already administering a screening questionnaire should implement the workplace screening tool immediately.
Many thanks to Alissa Scarcello for her assistance in drafting this article.