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The End of COVID-19 Regulations
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Throughout the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, we have undergone several cycles of announcements, implementations, and revocations of COVID-19-related regulations. On April 14, 2022, Ontario filed yet another regulation – O. Reg. 346/22: Revoking Various Regulations (this “Regulation”) under Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. In the nutshell, this Regulation revokes every single remaining COVID-19-related regulation in the province.

What Are Some Examples of Rules and Restrictions Being Lifted?

A major regulation being revoked is Regulation 364/20: Rules For Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step, which requires that businesses must operate in accordance with any advice and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including with respect to physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting; establishing, implementing and ensuring compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy; and setting out the precautions and procedures that businesses must include in their COVID-19 vaccination policies. In addition, masks and face coverings are no longer required on public transit services, in hospitals, in long-term care homes, laboratories and specimen collection centers, homeless shelters, and congregate care supportive housing residences, among others.
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26-Month Notice Period Upheld by Ontario Court of Appeal
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In the world of workplace law we often say that, absent exceptional circumstances, the greatest notice period that any wrongfully dismissed employee could be awarded by an adjudicator is 24 months. But what are those exceptional circumstances? Years ago, we blogged about Dawe v. The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, a case in which the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the trial judge’s award of 30 months of reasonable notice for a terminated employee, reducing the final notice period to 24 months. Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision, Currie v. Nylene Canada Inc. (“Currie”), affirming the trial judge’s assessment of damages in the amount of 26 months of reasonable notice for the wrongfully dismissed employee, Ms. Currie (“Ms. Currie”). Below we will look at the factors the Court considered in rendering this judgment.
Continue Reading Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds 26-Month Notice Period

pregnancy or parental leave top-up
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As companies struggle to retain their talent in the midst of so many economic and health changes, many are finding new ways to attract and keep employees. A growing number of companies, for instance, are providing their employees with or extending existing pregnancy or parental leave top-up payments to assist families with caregiving responsibilities (present and/or future). 

Pregnancy vs. Parental Leave Basics

First of all, it’s important to distinguish between two commonly confused leaves: pregnancy and parental leave. In Ontario, pregnancy leave is taken by the birthing parent and typically starts before the birth of the child. Parental leave, on the other hand, can be taken by either or both new parents after the birth of the child or when a child comes into the employee’s custody, care and control. Parental leave can also be used by parents who are adopting a child. The birthing parent will typically take a combination of pregnancy and parental leave. These leaves are protected leaves under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). The ESA sets out the requirements for the leaves, for example, how long an employee must be employed with the employer before they can take the leave, and the employee’s entitlements both during the leave and upon return from the leave. 
Continue Reading Parental Leave, EI and Top-Up Basics

Non-Compete Clause Update
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In a recent post, we talked about Ontario’s then-proposed and now law ban on non-compete agreements in employment contracts under Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“Bill 27”). The ban was effective as of October 25, 2021. Initially, there was some confusion about the enforceability of non-compete agreements or clauses entered into prior to the introduction of Bill 27. The Superior Court of Justice has recently released its decision for Parekh et al. v. Schecter et al., which clarifies that enforceable non-compete clauses entered into before October 25, 2021 will not be impacted by the ban and can be upheld. 
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IT employment standards rights: how do they differ from other employees?
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Tech is on the rise. Tech jobs have exploded in number in past years, but especially so since the pandemic. We work with a lot of tech clients, especially tech startups with workforces that are growing exponentially. There are many types of workers who work with tech companies, amongst them information technology (IT) professionals. It is critical for tech companies that employ IT professionals to understand the rights of their workers, especially their IT professional employees, whose employment standards rights are different from those of some other employees. 

How Are an IT Professional’s Rights Different? 

Under O. Reg. 285/01 of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), IT professionals are exempt from the following requirements under the ESA:
Continue Reading Who is an Information Technology (IT) Professional in Ontario? And What Rules Apply to Them?

We’ve written about terminations in several of our blog posts throughout the years. Some of our employer readers (and clients) may recall scrambling to update their employment contracts following the 2020 release of Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc. (2020 ONCA 391). Still, many employers who are seeking to terminate their indefinite-term employees on a without cause basis believe that as long as they provide their employees with 2 weeks of notice, or the period of notice set out in the Employment Standards Act, 2000, they are off the hook. More often than not, this notice period is legally insufficient. So, what is the applicable notice period? 
Continue Reading Firing Employees with 2 Weeks of Notice May be Insufficient

Updated Ontario COVID-19 Restrictions
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The Government of Ontario has again released an update on its COVID-19 public health measures and advice. As many of our readers know, given the recent changes in the public health situation, new measures have been implemented and are in effect from January 5 until January 27, 2022. Read on to find out how these new rules, in addition to the temporary closure of schools and mandatory remote learning until January 17, 2022, will impact employers.
Continue Reading Back at Home: An Update on COVID-19 Restrictions

An Update on Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021
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In our recent blog, we talked about Ontario’s Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021, which proposed new changes to several pieces of legislation, most notably the Employment Standards Act, 2000. On November 30, 2021, Bill 27 passed third reading and on December 2, 2021, it received royal assent, making it now law. In this post, we will highlight some of the key changes.

Non-Compete Agreements are Prohibited

Under Bill 27, employers are prohibited from entering into employment contracts or other agreements with employees that is or includes a non-compete agreement. Employers will be pleased to know that there is an exception for executives; these employees may still enter into non-compete agreements with employers. 

Executives are defined as “any person who holds the office of chief executive officer, president, chief administrative officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer, chief legal officer, chief human resources officer or chief corporate development officer, or holds any other chief executive position”.
Continue Reading An Update on Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021

Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies
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In our recent blog, we discussed the consequences that employees may face for not receiving government-approved COVID-19 vaccinations. We also touched on the legitimate medical or religious reasons that some employees may have for refusing or being unable to be vaccinated. In this blog, we’ll take a deeper dive into what sorts of exemptions employers should be prepared to expect (if they have not already come across them) and the steps they can take to determine whether employees have a valid request for an exemption from vaccination, along with the required accommodations. 

Types of COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Exemptions Employers May Encounter

Employers should keep an eye out for valid medical and religious/creed-based exemptions employees may have from vaccination. 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has provided some examples (of which it emphasizes there are few) of acceptable medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination:
Continue Reading A Deeper Dive into Exemptions from Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

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