Opinion: He was forced back to a Burnaby office. But not his co-workers

Chris Campbell

Lisa wants to be careful about this.

She doesn’t want to get her dad fired, but she wants people to know about how many workers are being treated by their employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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With the lifting of many restrictions during the summer, many employers have been bringing employees who have been working from home back to offices.

And it’s a tricky thing because many of these companies have varying levels of commitment to safety protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Lisa has told the story of her dad and how he has seemingly been singled out by her Burnaby employer to return to work. Her dad has a lingering health issue that leaves him more vulnerable to COVID-19 compared to others.

He has a valid doctor’s note detailing the condition, but the employer has insisted that he return to in-office work.

That’s one issue. Another is that the company hasn’t made the same requirement for the dad’s co-workers.

She heard from her dad Friday morning and he told her that “next to no one is in the office today” - that they’re either all away sick, or working remote due to case numbers being high from Thursday, Lisa said.

This has all followed many months of back and forth between the employer and the employee, including a letter from the company lawyer.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s dad has been told by co-workers who are still working from home that they were not required to provide a doctor’s note.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeatedly urged employers to make accommodations for staff who feel safer working from home.

I get that it’s difficult for some employers to do this, especially when a job involves dealing with the public. But companies can’t have one standard for one employee and another for a different set of staff.

“I’ve heard so many horror stories from friends in similar situations,” Lisa said. “All of these employers claim the health and safety of their employees is important, but they sure have a funny way of showing it.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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