Your Right to Refuse

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CDC : Coronavirus (COVID-19)

You Have a Right to Be Safe

During the present crisis relating to COVID-19 CPC has agreed with the Union on modifying certain processes aimed at minimizing risks and exposition to the virus. CUPW has been following closely and exerting pressure on the Corporation for the procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer and Plexiglas shields for retail outlets. If these products are not available to you we recommend you have a conversation with your employee representative on the Local Health and Safety Committee or your Health and Safety Representative (offices with 19 or less employees). You can also discuss this with your Shop Steward or a Local Executive Member.

If the situation is not resolved and you still feel that the performance of your work will endanger your health, safety or physical well-being, you can exercise your right to refuse in the manner described below. For ease of use, the information in this section is also available as a bulletin and as PDFs for the cards.


If you plan to exercise your right to refuse unsafe work, please see the appropriate guidelines in the downloadable right to refuse cards below.

Workers under provincial or territorial jurisdiction can find the appropriate information here.


Canada Post has an Obligation to provide Safe Working Conditions and Facilities

Just as postal workers have a right to protect their health and safety the Employer has strict obligations to provide healthy and safe working conditions. For urban workers the Employer’s obligations are included in Article 33 of the urban collective agreement. These are strong provisions which were negotiated during the 1981 strike. They include the obligation of CPC to ensure that safe conditions prevail within the workplace, to take appropriate and effective measures, both preventive and corrective, to protect the health and safety of employees.

The Employer is obligated to provide and maintain workplaces, equipment, work methods and tools that are safe and without risk to health; inform its employees and Union Representatives of any situation relating to their work which may endanger their health or safety, as soon as it learns of said unsafe situation and inform employees adequately regarding the risks relating to their work, and provide appropriate training and supervision so that the employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to safely perform the work assigned to them. 

CPC is also required to provide the equipment, clothing and devices deemed necessary to prevent injury. Finally the employer is required to take, without delay, all the measures necessary to prevent or correct a situation liable to endanger the health and safety of employees, or liable to compromise the environment, as soon as the situation is brought to its attention.

Article 24 of the RSMC collective agreement provides for RSMCs to be covered by the terms of the Canada Labour Code. CUPW takes the position that the same protections accorded to urban workers must apply to all RSMCs.

Clause 33.13 of the Urban Postal Operations Collective Agreement

  • You have the right to refuse dangerous work if you have reasonable cause to believe that this work will endanger your health or endanger another worker’s health.
  • You must inform your CUPW Union Representative and your supervisor of your refusal.
  • Canada Post must investigate the situation in the presence of a CUPW union representative.

Section 128 of the Canada Labour Code

(Applies to both Urban and RSMCs)

  • You have the right to refuse dangerous work if you have reasonable cause to believe that this work will endanger your health or endanger another worker’s health.


The general process is outlined below. Please consult the Canada Labour Code Right to Refuse cards for exact details and steps.


  • Bring your CUPW Union Representative with you when reporting your refusal to the employer. 
  • The employer must investigate the situation immediately and in your presence. Afterwards, if you believe the danger was not corrected, you may still refuse. 
  • The employer and the health and safety committee (or representative) then conduct a joint investigation, which you may attend. After which, if you wish to continue to refuse, the Minister is notified. 
  • In the meantime, you may be assigned to reasonable alternative work or asked to remain in a safe place. 
  • An officer from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will investigate in the presence of all parties. 
  • You must comply if the EDSC Minister’s decision orders you back to work, but you or the union has up to ten (10) days to appeal.

Send Us Your Feedback

Your experience in the workplace is our primary concern. Your feedback is valuable and we’re listening to members' concerns from the work floor in our decision-making. The best way to send that feedback is through your local Health and Safety Committee or the Stewards network. The union will always fight for the health and safety of the membership. Adding your voice can help us help each other.


We are sharing the best available information we can find and updating it whenever possible, and without delay. Thus, while we are disseminating this information, please be aware that not everything we’re sharing here has been thoroughly vetted by the union, nor does it necessarily represent CUPW’s beliefs or positions.