“Can my employer force me to wear PPE?

Some companies are telling their employees to wear a mask on the job, which has readers like Paul T. wondering if businesses can force workers to put on personal protective equipment (PPE).

Actually, they can.

Richard Powers, a business professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said the answer to this is simple because there are laws about workplace safety.

“The store owner or business owner has a legal obligation to create a safe work environment for employees,” Powers said. “If that involves PPE, that’s what they have to do. An employee would have to comply or else they wouldn’t be working.”

Employment lawyer Samara Belitzky said that in general, if it’s for health and safety reasons, “an employer can designate that employees have to wear PPE.”

“However, there might be exceptions to this where, for example, medical or religious accommodations are required for certain employees.”

Michael Bryant, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said because of human rights provisions, employees, for example, “wouldn’t have to wear a mask if they had a disability or medical condition.”

But he said he’d be surprised to hear if employees — especially those who deal directly with customers — wouldn’t want to wear a mask.

“Ordinarily those health and safety standards are sought by employees, and they want their employer to provide them a mask.”

Even in situations where you may not be interacting with customers, experts say it’s important to remember that wearing a mask protects everyone in your workplace — including your co-workers.

On Saturday, we answered questions about whether or not a store can force you to wear a mask to shop there.”