Work refusals related to COVID-19
Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, workers have the right to refuse work that they reasonably believe constitutes a danger to their safety and health, or that of another person should they perform the task. The Province of Manitoba has added new information with regard to COVID-19 and work refusals. Learn more.
Right to Refuse
Section 43 of the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act explains the right to refuse. A worker has the right to refuse to perform a specific job or task they believe is unsafe without being disciplined by the employer. The employer or supervisor may temporarily assign a new task to a worker while the right to refuse is being investigated, at no loss in pay.
Right to refuse dangerous work
43(1) Subject to this section, a worker may refuse to work or do particular work at a workplace if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that the work constitutes a danger to his or her safety or health or to the safety or health of another worker or another person.
Reporting the refusal
43(2) A worker who refuses to work or do particular work under subsection (1) shall promptly report the refusal and the reasons for it to his or her employer or immediate supervisor, or to any other person in charge at the workplace.
Inspecting dangerous conditions
43(3) If the employer does not remedy the dangerous condition immediately, the person who receives the report of refusal to work, or a person designated by that person, shall immediately inspect the dangerous condition in the presence of the worker and one of the following persons:
(a) if there is a committee under section 40 (of the Workplace Safety and Health Act), the worker co-chairperson of the committee or, if that person is unavailable, a committee member who represents workers;
(b) if there is a representative designated under section 41 (of the Workplace Safety and Health Act), that representative or, if he or she is unavailable, another worker selected by the worker refusing to do the work;
(c) if there is no committee or representative, another worker selected by the worker who is refusing to work.
43(4) The person required to inspect the dangerous condition shall take any action necessary to remedy any dangerous condition, or ensure that such action is taken.
Worker may continue to refuse
43(5) Until the dangerous condition is remedied, the worker who reported it may continue to refuse to work or do particular work.
Other workers not to be assigned
43(6) When a worker has refused to work or do particular work under subsection (1), the employer shall not request or assign another worker to do the work unless
(a) the employer has advised the other worker, in writing, of
(i) the first worker’s refusal,
(ii) the reasons for the refusal,
(iii) the other worker’s right to refuse dangerous work under this section, and
(iv) the reason why, in the opinion of the employer, the work does not constitute a danger to the safety or health of the other worker, another worker or any person;
(b) where practicable, the first worker has advised the other worker of
(i) the first worker’s refusal, and
(ii) the reasons for the refusal; and
(c) the actions required by subsections 43(3) and 43(4) have been taken.
Report of dangerous condition to an officer
43.1(1) If the dangerous condition is not remedied after an inspection under subsection 43(3), any of the persons present during the inspection may notify a safety and health officer from Workplace Safety and Health of the refusal to work and the reasons for it.
Appealing an officer’s decision
Anyone directly affected by an officer’s decision may appeal it to the Director of Workplace Safety and Health. A notice of appeal must list any persons interested in the appeal, and the Director must give those listed in the appeal the opportunity to provide information on the appeal. The Director will then make a decision about the appeal, and provide written reasons for the decision to those affected. The decision of the Director may be appealed to the Manitoba Labour Board.
Check out our Shop Talk on the right to refuse.