Bill 132 - Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Date
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In response to the provincial government’s March 2015 report entitled  “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment,” the Ontario legislature passed Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan in March 2016, which entered into force in September of that year. This Bill amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), establishing specific requirements with respect to sexualized harassment and violence prevention in Ontario’s workplaces. In turn, employers have since had additional responsibilities to understand, address and eliminate workplace sexual harassment and violence beyond previous measures. This requires sound and updated workplace policies, sufficient workplace training, and additional competencies to ensure compliance with the OHSA via, amongst other things, informed and diligent workplace investigations. Continue Reading Understanding your employer obligations under Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan

Minimum Wage Increase in Ontario
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As of October 1, 2021, minimum wage rates in Ontario increased. The increases are tied to the 2020 Ontario Consumer Price Index under the Making Ontario Open for Business Act. The general minimum wage for provincially regulated employees has increased by 10 cents – from $14.25 per hour to $14.35 per hour. The minimum wage rates for students, liquor servers, hunting and fishing guides, homeworkers, and wilderness guides have also increased. The Ministry of Labour has published a handy chart with a list of the minimum wage rates.

What about alternative pay arrangements (non-hourly, non-salaried, room and board)?

Employers should note that these rate increases also apply to employees who earn commission – these employees’ pay must amount to at least the minimum wage for each hour the employee has worked.  Continue Reading Minimum Wage Increase in Ontario

We are thrilled to introduce two new members of the SpringLaw team- Flora Vineberg and Lindsay Koruna!

Flora Vineberg – Employment, Sexual Assault & Investigations Lawyer

Flora Vineberg joins SpringLaw
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Flora is a formidable advocate specializing in labour and employment law, with a specific focus on sexual assault, harassment and human rights litigation, and workplace investigations. She recognizes the value of a healthy and productive workforce, and works alongside both employees and employers to achieve positive, sustainable legal outcomes predicated on trust and professionalism.

With a focus on gender-based violence, Flora has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, received training in The Hague to conduct international criminal investigations, and is currently also an Investigator with the province’s Special Investigations Unit. Flora has volunteered for and participated in myriad forms of community-based advocacy including the Toronto Police Services Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, and the Missing and Missed Implementation Task Force as part of the LGBTQ community. Flora regularly writes and speaks publicly regarding all aspects of sexual assault, centering a feminist approach to legal advocacy and an enduring commitment to building client trust.

Outside the office Flora loves the outdoors, playing ice hockey, spending time with any/all animals including her rescue dog, playing music, and sharing meals with loved ones.

Flora’s diverse experience and expertise will enable SpringLaw to expand the scope of our services to both our employer and employee clients, as well as victims of sexual assault Employing a client-centered and trauma-informed approach, Flora’s background in both criminal and civil law enables her to represent clients from all walks of life with compassion, tenacity and focus. In turn, she uses these skills to provide informed and thoughtful legal advice, while incorporating strategic or creative solutions to myriad workplace and human rights-based issues.

Lindsay Koruna – Paralegal

Lindsay Koruna joins SpringLaw
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Lindsay is a licensed paralegal with a background in criminal law and sexual assault and personal injury civil litigation. She works compassionately with both employer and employee clients while maintaining a professional and legal lens for various legal issues.  

Lindsay started her legal career in 2015 as a paralegal working in a firm that specializes in criminal defence. She then joined a boutique firm that practices personal injury civil litigation with a focus on sexual assault cases. 

Through her work with high-risk cases and vulnerable clients, Lindsay has become a strong advocate for law to be accessible, easily explained and, more importantly, understood.

Outside of work, as a Toronto local, Lindsay is very passionate about supporting local and small business, whether that be through food, drink, or activities. If there is live music in the city, you can bet Lindsay will be there. 

We are thrilled to have Lindsay joining us and know that she will provide both our clients and our legal team with exceptional support and services. She brings compassion, understanding and a client-centered approach to the legal process, and strives to make what may seem like an intimidating legal process as easy as possible for our employer and employee clients. 

We are so thrilled to have them joining us.  Welcome to SpringLaw Flora and Lindsay!

National Day for Truth and ReconciliationToday marks Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  This day provides Canadians with an opportunity to honour, reflect upon and educate themselves about the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, and their families and communities.  

At SpringLaw, each of our team members will be dedicating part of today to observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by learning about Truth and Reconciliation, the diverse and rich First Nations, Metis and Inuit cultures across Canada, and reflecting upon their stories and histories.

SpringLaw will also be making a donation to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation for each team member who completes the University of Alberta’s free online course “Indigenous Canada”. We encourage all of our clients, colleagues, family and friends to do the same.  Continue Reading National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Job Consequences for Employees Refusing Mandatory Vaccination
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We are getting lots of questions from employers and employees about vaccination. We addressed many of these questions a few weeks ago in our post Unvaccinated Employees and Mandatory Vaccination. Now that a little bit of time has passed, we are getting more questions about the possible job consequences for employees who are unvaccinated. 

Why is the Employee not Vaccinated?

Before considering what job consequences might be appropriate, it’s crucial for employers to understand the employee’s reasons for being unvaccinated. In rare circumstances, an employee may be entitled to a legitimate exemption from a mandatory vaccination policy. Employees who have legitimate exemptions based on medical or religious grounds will be entitled to protection from discrimination by human rights legislation. While it still may not be appropriate to allow an unvaccinated employee with a legitimate reason for an exemption from attending in person at the office, they will be entitled to accommodation. The range of accommodations is wide, from placing an employee on an unpaid leave of absence to allowing them to continue their work remotely. For more information on legitimate reasons for exemptions and accommodation, see our past post Continue Reading Job Consequences for Employees Refusing Mandatory Vaccination

IDEL COVID-19 Period Extended to January 1, 2022
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The COVID-19 period for Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) has once again been extended, this time to January 1, 2022. The COVID-19 period for this leave which, at its inauguration was set to end on September 4, 2020, has been extended multiple times – first to January 2, 2021, then to July 3, 2021, then again to September 25, 2021, and now into the new year. 

To Whom Does this Leave Apply?

This IDEL applies to employees who were laid off or had their hours temporarily reduced from March 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022. Employees on this deemed IDEL are exempted, under a provincial regulation that amended certain segments of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), from being deemed to have been terminated. These employees are not owed ESA notice or severance pay.  Continue Reading IDEL COVID-19 Period Extended to January 1, 2022

proof of vaccination
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On September 1, 2021, the Ontario government announced that, beginning September 22, 2021, Ontario residents will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (meaning that both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine must have been administered at least fourteen days prior), in the form of a printout or PDF receipt of vaccination status, plus photo identification, in order to enter certain non-essential business sites. A vaccine verification app and QR code, to be used by various businesses and organizations, are currently under development. 

Where Proof of Vaccination Will and Will Not be Required in Ontario 

The vaccine certificate program requires that non-essential businesses restrict entry to their premises to those who have valid proof of vaccination, as outlined above. Non-essential businesses include restaurants (indoor dining only); nightclubs (indoor and outdoor areas); theatres, music festivals, concerts, and cinemas; night clubs, strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs; racing venues; casinos and gaming establishments; fitness and recreational centres (except youth recreational sport); and meeting spaces. Continue Reading Vaccine Passports: Which Businesses will Require Them and Who is Exempt?

Unvaccinated Employees and Mandatory Vaccination
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Both employers and employees are asking questions related to mandatory vaccinations and consequences for employees who don’t get them. Here we run through some of those FAQs!

Q: If vaccinations are deemed to be “mandatory” for workers, are there any legal exemptions?

A: Yes, in some cases there will be legal exceptions to a job requirement that employees be vaccinated. These exceptions come from the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), which prohibits discrimination in employment based on protected grounds. The protected grounds likely to be engaged with respect to a vaccination requirement are disability and creed. If the exemption is based on a medical reason, it will fall under disability. Religious reasons will fall under creed. Continue Reading Unvaccinated Employees and Mandatory Vaccination

health and safety policies and committee
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Once workers are back together in the workplace, employers will want to ensure that their health and safety policies and programs have been reviewed and account for all the changes and new ways of doing things. Your Joint Health and Safety Committee will play a role! 

What’s a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

In Ontario, one legal requirement of a compliant health and safety program (H&S Program) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is for workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). A JHSC is made up of employees and managers who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues in the workplace. The group is required to have a balanced number of employee representatives and management representatives. Employers must consult with the JHSC about their H&S Program and employees can directly approach their JHSC with any health and safety concerns.  Continue Reading Time to Reconvene your Joint Health & Safety Committee

employees duty to mitigate
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Employees who have been wrongfully dismissed from their employment have a legal duty to mitigate. In other words, these employees must look for new employment if they wish to seek a termination payment from their former employers. Regardless of whether an employee successfully secures new employment prior to the end of their notice period, the court will still look to see that the employee took reasonable steps to find alternative comparable employment. If the court is not satisfied that the employee has made proper efforts to do so, it may reduce or deny the termination pay the former employer would otherwise be ordered to pay to the employee. A recent decision, Lake v. La Presse (2018) Inc., 2021 ONSC 3506, underlines the repercussions an employee could face if they fail to take such reasonable steps to mitigate their damages.

The Case of Lake v. La Presse (2018) Inc.

In this 2021 Ontario Superior Court case, the Court reduced a former employee’s common law/reasonable notice period from eight to six months due to the employee’s failure to mitigate their damages.  Continue Reading Failure to Mitigate and Reduction of the Notice Period