In a September 2nd press release, leading global professional services network KPMG declared its intention to require a COVID-19 vaccination for all employees, contractors, guests, and partners in its Canada offices. The mandate will also apply to partners and employees visiting client sites or off-site locations on company business. The policy will go into effect October 1st, 2021, and will provide accommodations for anyone who is unable to be vaccinated due to protected grounds under human rights law.
The decision was partially driven by an internal survey of approximately 8,000 Canadian KPMG employees, 92% of whom reported being vaccinated and 77% of which indicated they would be “more comfortable” if a vaccine policy was put in place. The company, which has firms in 147 countries employing over 227,000 people, moved quickly to remote work during the early stages of the pandemic and is currently taking a phased approach to returning to its offices based on guidance from public health authorities and applicable levels of government. The move to remote work caused the company to embrace new ways of working, enabling employees to perform their duties where they are most productive and effective.
The move comes on the heels of a study conducted by the firm in August 2021, which polled 505 Canadian small and medium-sized business owners and decision makers. The results reflected significant support for vaccination requirements, as well as widespread agreement that vaccines play a crucial role in maintaining a stable and productive business environment that could avoid future lockdowns. 62% of respondents also indicated they are implementing or are planning to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.
Norm Keith, Partner in Employment and Labour Law for KPMG Law LLP and a leading advisor in Canadian safety law, stated, "Businesses are grappling with how to navigate the issue of mandatory vaccination and determine whether or not they are legally permitted to require their employees and, in some cases, their customers, to provide proof of vaccination… Our poll found a wide consensus among employers that vaccination is the most effective way to protect workers and customers and key to avoiding a new wave of infections and lockdowns."
Given the surging number of COVID cases due to the delta variant, it appears likely that other businesses will begin following the trend of mandating vaccinations for their workforces, reducing health care expenses and lost productivity while providing a clearer pathway out of the ongoing pandemic.