Amid ongoing protests, CEO says unvaccinated truckers kept in Canada. But should employers provide accommodation?
Canada's largest trucking company has implemented a strategy that ensured the latest vaccine mandate on cross-borders truckers will not become an issue to the firm, according to its chief executive officer (CEO).
TFI International Inc. chairman and CEO Alain Bedard told analysts that while a vast majority of the company's truckers are vaccinated, those who chose not to get the jabs have been kept inside Canada.
"We have a few drivers that still say no, but what we do with them is we just keep them in Canada," Bedard said as quoted by Global News.
According to Bedard, they predicted that the exemption on cross-border truckers would end soon, after it was implemented on January 15.
With the company's vaccination rate and strategy, Bedard said the jab mandate did not really become an issue inside the firm.
"Vaccination at TFI is not an issue at all," he said as quoted by the media.
His remarks came amid an ongoing "Freedom Convoy" in Canada, where protesters are opposing the vaccine requirements for cross-border travel.
Ottawa recently declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing demonstration.
Accommodations for unvaccinated
Similar to the strategy of TFI International Inc. where they offered accommodation for its unvaccinated employees. Other employers have also started to redeploy unvaccinated staff to positions where risks of infection are lower.
Unions have previously called on employers to provide alternatives to unvaccinated staff, instead of handing them leave without pay or disciplinary action.
"For those who choose not to accept the vaccine, we believe that the employer has an obligation to consider alternatives to leave without pay or disciplinary action, including remote work, PPE and rapid testing," said the Yukon Employees' Union last year.
Ryley Mennie, principal at Miller Titerle Law Corporation, told HRD that there is "technically an accommodation under human rights laws in theory" over medical exemptions.
Most employers are taking the timeframe approach for mandatory vaccinations, according to Mennie, with unemployed staff given time to change their mind or provide evidence to trigger an accommodation process.
"However, after that time lapses employees are usually placed on unpaid leave. Following that, there's a good chance that the worker will lose their employment," Mennie explained.