COVID-19 Information for Employers
This information is for workplaces and businesses, except health care settings. See specific information for farmers and international agriculture workers (previously referred to as temporary foreign workers).
PCR testing is available to eligible individuals at select locations in Niagara. Public Health recommends that employers do not request proof of a negative test for employees to return to work after isolation.
Public Health is unable to clear employees for work. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out how long an employee should self-isolate or self-monitor.
Managing COVID-19 in the workplace
The following information and resources outline good practices to control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Learn more about how to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19.
Find more information on creating a COVID-19 workplace safety plan to help make your workplace safer.
Vaccination: staying up to date and workplace policy
Continuing COVID-19 circulation can lead to increased workplace absenteeism. Employers are strongly encouraged to support employees in staying up to date on all recommended vaccine doses. Examples of employer support include:
- Providing senior / executive-level endorsement of vaccination and encouragement to all employees to receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses
- Letting employees use work time to get vaccinated
- Consider promoting a clinic location that's nearby and arranging for transportation for staff to attend
In addition to COVID-19 vaccination, employers can also strongly encourage workers to get their annual flu shot during the influenza season.
COVID-19 vaccination policy for a workplace, organization or club
Niagara Region Public Health strongly supports those organizations who are opting to continue mandatory vaccination policies for their staff and / or members. Organizations looking to keep their vaccination policy up to date are recommended to have a policy that strongly recommends employees in staying up to date on all recommended vaccine doses with COVID-19 vaccination.
Learn how to create a COVID-19 vaccination policy if your workplace or organization doesn't currently have one in place.
For employers, while not necessary, it is encouraged to consult with legal and labour relations when designing or updating your workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Self screening for symptoms
Learn about provincial COVID-19 screening information for employers to help keep sick people out of the workplace and reduce possible transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses at work.
Advise employees to stay home when they are sick
Regardless of a COVID-19 test result, it's important for employees to stay home when sick to prevent whatever infection they may have from spreading to others.
Niagara Region Public Health recommends employers have sick pay for workers so they don't feel economically pressured to come to work and work-from-home options for employees who need to isolate but are well enough to work.
Ventilation and filtration
Workplaces should keep their heating, ventilation and air conditioning system set to be circulating air at all times. This is done by changing the thermostat fan setting from "auto" to "on." Ensure it has been recently maintained by a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system professional.
Where a ventilation system is not present, keeping windows and doors open can increase ventilation, though this isn't as controlled as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Use screens in windows and doors to prevent flies and other pests from entering.
Filtration of the air can further reduce the risk from aerosolized virus. Using a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value 13 or higher filter in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, where the system can tolerate that level of filtration, is strongly encouraged. Only make adjustments to your system in consultation with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system professional.
Where a central ventilation / filtration system is not present, running a portable air purifier / cleaner with a HEPA filter is a recommended substitute. Such portable devices are best placed in the centre of a room (if the cord is not a tripping hazard) or in an area of unobstructed airflow and away from sources of fresh air, such as windows.
Larger rooms with more people might need multiple devices, especially if air quality is suboptimal. When selecting a portable air purifier / cleaner, consider the rating of the device with respect to the size of the space in which it will be used to determine the appropriate model and / or number of devices for the space.
If an investment in a HEPA air cleaner is not financially feasible, consider a do-it-yourself air cleaner using a box fan and MERV-13 filters. To find build specifications, search "Corsi-Rosenthal box" filters online. Examples include:
- Science in Action: How to Build a Corsi-Rosenthal Box | College of Engineering (ucdavis.edu)
- THE Corsi/Rosenthal Box FAQ - Clean Air Crew
Emerging ceiling-mounted ultraviolet technologies (upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) are also now available and supported by Public Health as a further measure to increase the safety of the indoors to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. These are usually more difficult to access and may be costly to install.
Public Health is also supportive of employers who want to incorporate carbon dioxide testing into their workplace. Carbon dioxide build-up above 800 ppm can indicate inadequate ventilation and signal the need to look at improvements in ventilation and filtration.
Employers and employees can find more good practices on the behaviours to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and indoor ventilation: guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Promote healthy hygiene practices
Make alcohol-based hand sanitizer available throughout the establishment, such as at each entrance, checkouts, tables, washrooms, etc.
Employees should practise regular hand hygiene.
Returning to work
To find out when your employee can return to work, refer to self-isolation guidance.
Information for farmers
On July 10, 2020 a Section 22 Order, made under Section 22 (5.0.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.7, as amended, was issued to decrease or eliminate the risk to health presented to international agricultural workers in Niagara during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Health has since issued Outbreak Guidance: Living Settings for Seasonal International Agri-Food Workers which outlines best practices to support public health units and agri-food employers with minimizing disease transmission among individuals living in employer-provided living settings, and to help prevent, detect and manage individual cases within these settings.
Given this Provincial guidance, the Section 22 (5.0.1) Order has been rescinded.
For information on available programs, worker rights and safety for international agriculture workers (previously referred to as temporary foreign workers), see resources for international agri-food workers.
Questions can be directed to our Environmental Health Duty Officer at 905-980-6000 ext. 7590 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.