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Hilary Page brings a diverse legal background to her employment law practice. She started her career summering with a litigation boutique in downtown Toronto and then articled in-house at a municipality, where she developed an interest in workplace and human rights law.

pregnant employee notice periodIn the case of Nahum v. Honeycomb Hospitality Inc., the employer, Honeycomb Hospitality, terminated their Director of People and Culture, Sarah Nahum when she was five months pregnant. 

Entitlement to Notice of Termination

The notice period is intended to bridge a terminated employee to their new position. Courts consider the employee’s age, length of service and the character of their employment when determining what notice period is appropriate. 

Ms. Nahum had been with Honeycomb for just four and a half months. She was 28 years old and made $80,000 per year. She was terminated without cause, did not have a valid contract governing her termination entitlements, and therefore was entitled to notice in accordance with the common law. 

Honeycomb argued that an appropriate notice period for Ms. Nahum was two months.  
Continue Reading How Does Being Pregnant Impact an Employee’s Notice Period?

Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL
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At long last, the impact of Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) on employee constructive dismissal claims has been litigated. Employment lawyers have been speculating for a long while about how courts will treat the various employment pivots employers were required to make during the pandemic. We now have our first answer. 

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd. and ruled that the IDEL does not take away an employee’s ability to sue for constructive dismissal. 

What’s Constructive Dismissal?

A constructive dismissal occurs when an employer unilaterally and substantially changes an express or implied term of the employee’s contract. The term also needs to have been essential. Changes regarding pay, duties, hours of work etc., can all potentially be constructive dismissals. 
Continue Reading An Important Ruling for Employers on Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL

Results-Only Work Environments
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It’s no secret that one of the keys to happiness at work is a sense of control. With most knowledge workers having shifted to working from home, perhaps with more built-in flexibility, and with managers having had to let go of their need to be able to physically supervise, some workplaces may consider revisiting the idea of Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE).

What is a Results-Only Work Environment?

In a results-only work environment, the focus is autonomy and accountability. Employees are not subject to requirements like being at their desk or available via Slack from 9 – 5. How and when they get work done is up to them. What the employer focuses on is results and only results. If a full-time employee takes only 20 hours a week to fulfill their duties, in a ROWE workplace that’s fine! The other 20 hours are their own.   
Continue Reading Results-Only Work Environments

manager exemption for overtime
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Last week we wrote about ways employers can manage overtime liabilities with Averaging Agreements and Time in Lieu. This week we will tackle a commonly litigated overtime issue – the manager exemption. 

The Manager Exemption 

Not every worker is entitled to overtime pay. Exemptions are set out in section 8 of Ontario Regulation 285.1 under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Included in the list of the exempt is the manager or, to be exact, “a person whose work is supervisory or managerial in character and who may perform non-supervisory or non-managerial tasks on an irregular or exceptional basis.” Who exactly falls under this exemption can be unclear. 
Continue Reading Overtime Part 2: The Manager Exemption

questions about vaccines and employees
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With the vaccine becoming more widely available, questions about vaccine passports, time off to get the vaccine and whether employers can require employees to get the vaccine are becoming more relevant. 

Paid Vaccination Leave in Saskatchewan

Last week a new paid vaccine leave became law in Saskatchewan. This leave, which was made under Saskatchewan’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020, allows workers to take PAID time off to get their vaccines. Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement this type of leave. 
Continue Reading Vaccinating the Workforce

Over the course of the past year, many people have had reductions in earnings and received some form of government income assistance - EI, CERB or Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).  In some cases, employees who initially thought that their interruption or reduction in earnings was temporary have had their employment terminated.   In almost all termination situations an employee will be entitled to some form of termination payment from the employer. Employees who are also receiving government income assistance may wonder how their government payments will be impacted by their termination packages.   While not everything is crystal clear at this point, we have some thoughts!  Layoffs and the Deemed IDEL   As noted, in some circumstances, employees have been temporarily laid off. During 2020, these layoffs converted into Deemed Infectious Disease Emergency Leaves (IDEL). Unless an employee is terminated, these Deemed IDELs will continue during the COVID-19 Period, which is presently set to end July 3, 2021.   While an employee is not receiving income, or while they are receiving 50% or less of their pre-COVID income due to COVID-19 reasons, they will typically be eligible for EI or the CRB.   Employees who have not had their employment ended at the end of the COVID-19 Period can expect to either be recalled to work or be placed on a temporary layoff. A temporary layoff can continue for up to 35 weeks if the employer continues the employee benefits.  An employee can expect to continue to be eligible for CRB or EI after the COVID-19 period should they be continued on a layoff.   Terminations, EI, CERB and CRB  An employee who is terminated while on the Deemed IDEL should receive their termination entitlements up to the date of their termination. This means that for the purposes of calculating length of service the employee’s time on the Deemed IDEL should be included. This should also mean that the income replacement benefits that the employee received prior to their termination date should not be required to be paid back, for reasons of double-dipping. The termination package should cover a time period after the termination date and therefore not impact the benefits received prior to the termination date.    While it is not 100% clear how the CRA will treat an employee’s continued entitlement to income replacement benefits following the termination date after the employee receives a termination package there are a few general principles:   EI - Typically an employee will not be entitled to EI when they are receiving income from the employer, and EI will regard termination payments as income. However, the government’s EI FAQs state that “As a temporary measure most separation monies received when you are laid off will not affect the payment of your EI benefits for the claims established on or after September 27, 2020 for one year.” This suggests that EI payments with respect to COVID-19 may be treated differently.   CERB - While the period for which employees could receive CERB is over, the government CERB FAQs indicate that “A severance payment does not impact an individual’s eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.” This suggests that receiving a termination package will not disentitle an employee from their CERB. In a recent decision the Ontario Superior Court agreed - see Iriotakis v. Peninsula Employment Services Limited, 2021 ONSC 998.  CRB - The CRB will likely be treated similarly to the CERB, and we expect that an employee will not have to repay the CRB if they also receive a termination package so long as they continue to maintain eligibility. An employee will be required to re-pay $0.50 of CRB for every dollar of net income earned above $38,000 in the calendar year.   Terminated employees who have been receiving income replacement benefits should get advice so that they can understand the impact of their termination packages on their entitlements to these benefits.Over the course of the past year, many people have had reductions in earnings and received some form of government income assistance – EI, CERB or Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

In some cases, employees who initially thought that their interruption or reduction in earnings was temporary have had their employment terminated. 

In almost all termination situations an employee will be entitled to some form of termination payment from the employer. Employees who are also receiving government income assistance may wonder how their government payments will be impacted by their termination packages. 

While not everything is crystal clear at this point, we have some thoughts!
Continue Reading Termination Payments and Repaying Government Benefits – EI, CERB and CRB