Flu season in Ontario usually begins in October and lasts until early February.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, influenza is a serious disease that affects millions of Canadians each year.
For additional health information, please see:
Flu information for the public – Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
An outbreak of flu does not affect your workplace rights.
[*]Workers in certain occupations such as those responsible for public safety – fire fighters, police, correctional officers and health care workers, for example – have a limited right to refuse work; they can not refuse unsafe work if the alleged danger is considered to be a normal part of the job or if the refusal would endanger the health or safety of another person.
If you think that one of your co-workers has flu, talk to your supervisor, the Joint Health and Safety Committee (if there is one), or your health and safety representative.
Workers involved in cleaning the workplace must be trained in the safe and appropriate use and handling of cleaning chemicals. Workers required to use personal protective equipment must be trained in the proper use, care and limitations of the equipment.
If you believe that your workplace is unsafe because of a communicable disease, explain your concerns to your supervisor or joint health and safety committee representative.
Staff of the Ministry of Labour and workplace health and safety associations can provide guidance in addressing workplace health and safety concerns.
Employees with concerns about the workplace should first raise any concerns with their employer, union or health and safety representative to discuss available options.
These options may include unpaid leave or sick leave.
Employees’ jobs may be protected by the personal emergency leave provision of the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, employees who work for employers that regularly employ at least 50 employees have the right to take up to 10 days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year with respect to illness, injury and certain other emergencies and urgent matters.
Personal emergency leave can be taken because of personal illness, injury or medical emergency, or the death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to specified family members. An urgent matter could include a school closure caused by flu.
If you take a personal emergency leave, you must advise your employer as soon as possible. Your employer may require you to provide reasonable evidence that you are eligible for the leave.
Generally, employers have the right to schedule paid vacations for their employees. An employer could decide to schedule a vacation period for one or more employees at any time, including during a period of influenza outbreak. If an employee is already on personal emergency leave, the employer cannot convert the leave into a period of vacation time.More information on personal emergency leave.
Employers must consider worker health and safety during flu season. An outbreak of disease such as flu does not change employers’ responsibilities for workplace health and safety and for meeting employment standards.
Employers have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of your workers. Employers must, therefore:
More information about Workplace Safety and Insurance Board reporting requirements.
Health care workers
Health care sector employers