Over 890 employers and employees in Quebec have already signed the Charter of Commitment to Combat Coronavirus in the Workplace (the Charter). The Charter was published on the initiative of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), following consultations with major union and employer representatives.
The primary purpose of the Charter is to encourage employers and employees to take a leadership role in prevention in order to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
By signing the Charter, employers pledge to put in place and maintain for as long as necessary appropriate preventive measures to protect the health, safety and well-being of workers. They also commit to working closely with workers and their representatives to devise the most appropriate prevention strategy for their workplace.
More specifically, the CNESST outlines several concrete steps employers must take to fight the pandemic:
- implement social distancing measures, re-examine work practices and reconfigure workplaces;
- support and encourage working from home, where possible, and favour electronic communication over face-to-face interaction with customers and suppliers;
- ensure that employees do not come to work if their condition poses a risk to their health or the health of others.
The Charter also emphasizes the importance for workers to disclose the presence of symptoms related to COVID-19 immediately. During the summer months, it is worth noting that employers can question workers upon their return from vacation about the presence of possible symptoms, or ask whether they have travelled outside Quebec.
In conclusion, we encourage all employers to sign the Charter. It represents a symbolic commitment to show solidarity by joining others in deploying all necessary efforts to fight the pandemic and limit the risks to the health, safety and well-being of Quebec workers. More than ever, the health and safety choices that employers make today will directly influence the progression of the pandemic and its consequences on the lives and health of the population.
If you have questions about the appropriate prevention measures to take or want to understand your occupational health and safety obligations from a legal standpoint, our team can help you.