Several people I work with aren’t vaccinated. Can I insist on being able to work remotely?

I have young children and we often visit with my elderly parents. And I’m worried about Delta and other variants.

Ricardo

Ricardo

Vancouver, BC

There’s no legal requirement for employers to have a vaccination status policy in place. And there’s no law that says if some workers aren’t vaccinated, others can just opt to work from home. Unless your employment contract allows for it, working remotely is not a right; it’s a privilege. 

But that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful in convincing your employer. Much will depend on the circumstances, like:

  • Are you in close contact with these people at work?

  • Does your workplace have a policy that exempts certain people from not being vaccinated, and do these people have an exemption?

  • Can you do your job effectively from a remote location?

Effective communication is key here. If you present a strict demand or ultimatum, it may not go over well. But if you position your pitch as a request that will benefit the entire organization, it could help your cause.

Determine who you need to talk to first about this. Is it somebody in HR? Or just your direct report? Next, prepare your talking points. We’ve got a great primer on having tough talks with your boss to help build your confidence. You want to come off as confident and measured. Relate your reasons to your personal situation at home, and be sure to explain how you’ll be able to be as productive working remotely. Perhaps prepare a schedule in advance, which includes routine check-ins with your supervisors.

What if they say no? Again, unless it’s part of your employment contract, being able to work remotely isn’t automatic. If you’d like to pursue the matter further, you could talk to a lawyer to understand your options.

David Kandestin

David Kandestin

People's Law School
  • Reviewed in September 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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