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COVID-19 – Can an Employer Require an Employee to Self-Quarantine?

Some employees who have been travelling back to Canada from abroad, including the United States are required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days under mandate from the federal government. Other employees, who have travelled recently from Italy, certain Chinese provinces and Iran are required to not only self-quarantine, but also required to report themselves to local public health offices where they will be required to monitor and report any symptoms over the 14 day self-quarantine period. Based on these mandates from public health authorities and government, an employer is within its rights to require employees to follow self-quarantine requirements/mandates.

However, outside these select groups, unless there is a practical and substantial risk of exposure from an employee, an employer would likely have challenges imposing a 14 day self-quarantine if they are unwilling to continue wages and benefits during this period or at least trigger Employment Insurance benefit for the period. Working from home remotely may not always be a viable option for all employers and in some cases, business needs to continue despite the pandemic. These employers may have to implement various safeguards to ensure worker safety and reduce exposure risk, or modify the work environment completely.

As always, before making a decision, it is always safest to check your position with an Employment lawyer who can guide you through the myriad of ever changing issues surrounding COVID-19, and the unprecedented recommendations for self-quarantine, travel restrictions, and closures of non-essential businesses.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Law Group at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP for more information by contacting Scott Chambers at [email protected], or call 250-763-4323, or through our toll-free number at 1-800-661-4959. We can consult with you remotely as needed.