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Public Health COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses


This page includes business-specific COVID-19 prevention information and guidance from Halton Region Public Health, the Provincial and Federal Government and other health and safety organizations. Information on supports, services and relief programs can also be found here.

COVID-19 public health guidance for businesses

Vaccination information for employers

The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19. It is safe and highly effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Please note: the information provided on this webpage does not contain legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as legal advice; those for whom these recommendations are intended may seek their own legal advice for their specific circumstance.

Employers can encourage workers to get vaccinated and support increased vaccination uptake with a few simple steps:

For more resources, including translated resources, visit COVID-19 vaccine resources.

Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers. A workplace vaccination policy is an important measure employers should implement to protect their workers and the public.

Halton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, has recommended that all local employers address the need for a workplace vaccination policy to protect their workers and the public from COVID-19 (PDF file).

Assess your workplace risk of COVID-19 transmission. For example:

  • How many workers are part of your workforce?
  • Are workers required to be in close contact with others, while performing their work?
  • Does your workplace have: physical barriers when workers cannot keep distance from each other, customers/patrons or the public; good ventilation; and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers?
  • Do you have workers who may be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19? Some people may have reduced immunity due to age, pre-existing health conditions or medical treatments.
  • Is your workplace able to offer alternative work for people who require accommodation, for example remote work?

Workplace vaccination policies should adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (external link), the Ontario Human Rights Code (external link), and privacy laws (external link).

  1. Identify the scope and purpose.
    • Explain the purpose of the policy including the risks of COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect workers who work in a location with common areas and/or where workers can have contact with other workers, customers/patrons or the public. 
    • Explain who the policy applies to. Will the policy apply to all workers (i.e., not just employees but also contractors (including staff from 3rd party agencies), volunteers, students etc.)? Is there a separate policy for customers/patrons?
    • Explain that the policy may change as the status of the pandemic changes and/or legislation or public health advice changes.
    • Have a clear communication plan to inform workers about the policy.
  2. List action steps workers must take.
    When determined by the employer to be reasonably necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace or in the community while performing their work, workplace policies should require workers to provide proof of vaccination of a Health Canada or World Health Organization-approved vaccine. Alternatively, workers who do not provide proof of vaccination may need to, for example:
    • Indicate that they have a medical exemption, including if the reasons are temporary or permanent. The medical exemption should be written by a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner and does not need to include the reason for the exemption.
    • Complete a vaccination education course, with a signed declaration stating that they have reviewed and understood the content. The vaccination education course should include information on:
      • how the COVID-19 vaccines work;
      • vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
      • the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
      • risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19; and
      • possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.
  3. Set deadlines for when the actions must be taken.
    Specify a reasonable date when workers must demonstrate compliance with the workplace policy.
  4. List available supports for vaccination.
    Demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers to get vaccinated. Ways to support workers to get vaccinated include:
    • providing vaccine information from credible sources or translated resources;
    • supporting vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers;
    • providing paid leave to get vaccinated;
    • reminding workers that they are entitled to up to three paid sick days (external PDF), if they have side effects from the vaccine; and/or
    • providing transportation support to get vaccinated.
  5. Provisions for unvaccinated workers
    Your policy should list alternative options for workers who decline to get vaccinated for reasons protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code (external link), including those unable to complete their vaccination series for medical reasons. Some options to consider include:
    • Use of additional PPE, worker relocation and modified work or reassignments.
    • In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers (who have only received one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series) are not be permitted to work in the outbreak area. Workers without vaccination records should be assumed to be unvaccinated.
    • If reassignment is not possible, consider if unvaccinated workers should receive paid or unpaid leave or use vacation days until it is safe for them to return to the workplace.
  6. Non-Compliance
    • Outline the potential consequences for workers who do not fulfill the requirements of the policy.
  7. Privacy considerations
    • The policy should specify how individual vaccination status of employees will be used by employers to mitigate the health-related risks of COVID-19.
    • Information about workers’ vaccination information must be protected in accordance with applicable privacy legislation. Knowing your workers’ vaccination status may be important to help you take appropriate action quickly, in the event of COVID-19 cases in your workplace, to protect workers, their families, customers/patrons and the general public. This may include sharing that information with public health officials.
    • When collecting information about a worker’s vaccination status:
      • Identify ways to safeguard workers’ personal health information.
      • Limit information collected to what is reasonably necessary, (for example, copy of the proof of vaccination for each dose).
      • Keep worker vaccination information separate from their personnel file.
      • Ensure personal health/vaccination information is kept in a secure manner and only used when required.
  8. Staff contact
    • Identify who at your organization workers should contact with questions about the policy, to request accommodation, or for more information how to comply with the policy. The policy should also indicate the person to whom workers should provide proof of vaccination.
  9. Continued adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures
    Vaccination does not replace the need for strict adherence to established COVID-19 public health measures. Employers must continue to implement all COVID-19 prevention measures for their sector outlined in provincial guidelines (external link).


Ontario workers may qualify for up to three days of paid sick leave (external PDF) under Provincial legislation. The pay is at regular wages, up to $200 per day. Workers may take time off work to get vaccinated or if they have side effects from the vaccine. However, the three days are not in addition to existing paid sick days, if offered by the employer.

Employers may apply for reimbursement from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) for payment made under this sick leave program. The program is currently retroactive to April 19, 2021 and will end on July 31, 2022.


More information about sick leave during COVID-19:

  • Vaccination and COVID-19 prevention measures in workplaces
    Workplace vaccination policies are important tools to prevent workers from being exposed to COVID-19. COVID-19 prevention and control measures are still required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if it enters the workplace. After vaccination, continue to follow public health measures outlined to help keep your workplace safe.
  • Self-Isolation after Vaccination
    If an employee is symptomatic, has tested positive or has been exposed to someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive, they should visit (external link) to determine if they need to self-isolate.

Effective March 1, 2022, the Province has lifted proof of vaccination requirements for all settings. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Read the Province’s February 14, 2021 media release (external link) or visit the Province’s information for businesses and organizations about vaccine certificates (external link) for more information.

Some businesses and organizations may choose to require proof of vaccination. See the following for more information:

Please note that Halton Region Public Health is unable to assist with issues related to proof of vaccination requirements at businesses and organizations.

Supports for businesses

  • Ontario launches new supports for businesses (external link): The Province is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These supports include a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.
  • Canada COVID-19 wage and hiring support for businesses (external link): As an employer in Canada who has seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of the wages you pay employees. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease your business back into normal operations. Eligible employers can claim one of the following, whichever gives the highest amount:
    • Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) – Wage
    • Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) – Wage
    • Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP)
    • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
  • Work-Sharing Program – COVID-19 (external link): Work-Sharing is a temporary measure up to 76 weeks. All businesses across Canada that are directly or indirectly impacted by the downturn in business due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for the program.
  • Digital Main Street (DMS) (external link): Provides $2,500 grants, technical training, and digital resources to help businesses reach more customers in person and online, positioning them for a stronger recovery. Applications are now open.
  • For information on supports for specific sectors, view Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – Industry (external link).