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Labour and Employment

Medical Masks Mandatory At All Times in All Quebec Workplaces

Since July 18, 2020, masks or face coverings have been mandatory in all enclosed and partially enclosed public places for anyone over the age of 12 years old in the province of Quebec.

Since then, employees have been required to wear a mask or a face covering to circulate in the common areas of their workplace, but could until now remove their mask or face covering if they worked alone in a closed office, if they were able to keep a distance of at least two (2) meters from others when sitting at their work station or, in the alternative, were separated by a physical barrier (such as a panel or plexiglass) from any other person not occupying the same private residence as them.

On April 7, 2021, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (hereinafter “CNESST”) announced a new measure that will likely have an impact on several employers of the province : CNESST will henceforth require that employees wear a medical mask or a mask certified by the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (hereinafter “BNQ”) at all times in the workplace. This new measure is in line with the recommendation made by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec on March 30 pertaining to the wearing of masks at all times in the workplace, and has also been implemented in the context of the spread of COVID-19 variants.

CNESST highlighted in the notice (currently only available in French) it issued that employers will have to implement this new additional measure as of April 8, 2021, in addition to other recommended measures such as physical distancing of at least two (2) meters and maintaining physical barriers between employees in place.

Thus, employees will be required to wear a medical mask or a mask certified by BNQ when seated at their workstation, even if they can respect physical distancing measures or are separated from their co-workers by a physical barrier.

Employees who work outdoors will have to wear a medical mask or a mask certified by BNQ if they cannot keep a distance of at least two (2) metres from others.

As medical masks or masks certified by BNQ are considered personal protective equipment made mandatory by CNESST, employers must provide, at their own expense, such equipment to the employees pursuant to the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety.

For more information on specific occupational health and safety measures regarding the use by employees in the workplace of medical masks or masks certified by BNQ, we recommend employers consult the COVID-19 Toolkits prepared and published by CNESST.

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