Labour & Employment Law Blog

Ontario Employers Must Screen Employees for COVID Using New Screening Tool

Ontario Employers Must Screen Employees for COVID Using New Screening Tool

At the end of September 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Health set out new screening rules as well as a screening tool for businesses and organizations with respect to COVID-19. Organizations and business are required to comply with all directives of Ontario’s Ministry of Health pursuant to Ontario Regulation 364/20. These regulations are under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, C. 17. Specifically, section 2(3) of the Regulation 364/20 in Schedule 1 states that the person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.

The screening tool provided by the Ministry is a simple medical-type questionnaire that asks “yes” or “no” questions related to symptoms that could be symptoms of COVID-19 or Coronavirus. A copy of the screening tool can be found here.  A worker or employee should “pass” the screening tool only if they answered “no” to each question.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has set out that workplaces must implement screening of every employee or worker and every “essential visitor.” The Ministry defines an employee or worker as a staff member (including students and volunteers) that enter the workplace each day. The Ministry defines an “essential visitor” as an individual who provides a service to the business or organization that are not employees, patrons or customers. Examples of an “essential visitor” would be contract workers, delivery personnel or maintenance workers. The Ministry specifically sets out in its recommendations that customers or patrons of the business or organization are not required to be screened by the business or organization. Emergency workers such as first responders are also not required to be screened by the business or organization.

The Ontario Ministry of Health further sets out that screening should take place when the employee or worker first enters the premises of the business or organization at the start of their shift. Any worker, employee or “essential visitor” who does not pass the screening tool should be prevented from entering the workplace and should self-isolate and contact their health care provided or Telehealth Ontario.

Our Thoughts 

The Ontario Ministry of Health fails to provide any guidance with respect to how businesses or organizations should actually implement the screening tool in an effective way. For instance, the screening tool contains no identifying information with respect to the actual employee who completes the physical form. Nor does it set out the date or time on which the form was completed. It will need to be changed by the business or organization to have any use at all. For instance, Toronto Public Health’s version of the screening tool is perhaps better as it includes an additional question about PPE use as well as a place to include a name and date/time of completion of the screening tool. A copy of that screening tool can be found here. The employer could also implement their own version of the screening tool into an online questionnaire that would be accessible to the particular employee. There seems to be no requirement that the organization has a paper copy of the screening tool.

The Ontario Ministry of Health also provides no direction as to how the business or organization is to store or keep the screening tool once completed by the employee or worker.

The Ontario Ministry of Health also does not provide any direction with respect to any privacy concerns that an employee or worker may have related to the screening tool. More information can be found about employee privacy and the COVID-19 pandemic in our blog about the topic.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.