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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

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?

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

Mandatory COVID-19 Testing
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To enter Canada, all travellers over the age of 5, including those who are fully vaccinated, are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Samples to test for COVID-19 can be collected through a nose swab, throat swab, or saliva sample. Many employers are now mandating, or considering mandating, that employees get COVID-19 testing, either once, or at regular intervals, in order to enter the workplace, or in some cases, to continue working. What does the law have to say about policies addressing mandatory COVID-19 testing?

Can an Employer Legally Require Employees Undergo COVID-19 Testing?

To answer this question, it is critical to consider whether the intrusiveness of the COVID-19 test is reasonable when weighed against the objective of the policy requiring such a test. 
Continue Reading Legality of Mandatory COVID-19 Testing