Mark Machin resigned as CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The chief executive responsible for managing the Canadian Pension Plan, Mark Machin, resigned late last week after it was revealed that he received the COVID-19 vaccine in Dubai. Despite attempts to keep the trip to Dubai private, it was quickly revealed that he jumped the queue for vaccination by traveling to another country. He resigned shortly after a meeting with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on Thursday night.

Given the federal government’s clear message imploring Canadians to remain in the country to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, these types of trips by prominent Canadians are bound to attract public criticism. From an employment law perspective, this prompts questions like whether an employer may be entitled to terminate an employee that chooses to breach travel protocols, either for leisure or, as in this case, to receive a COVID-19 vaccination elsewhere.

Where an employee chooses to travel abroad while Canada has active travel restrictions, that is unlikely to be sufficient to be cause for termination. However, an employer will of course be within their rights to terminate an employee with the proper notice and severance entitlements if they feel that the employer is no longer a good match for the values of their company. And the same goes for the CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Employees that choose to travel during the pandemic may risk employer displeasure due to the quarantine requirements upon their return to Canada, as well as the public perception of engaging in non-essential travel.

As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic and experience the many unexpected dilemmas that accompany it, employers are placed in difficult positions where they must balance workplace needs and safety, public perception, and employee rights.

To better understand your workplace rights or to explore the viability of a claim during these unprecedented times, we encourage employees and employers to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

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