Paid IDEL Updated July 21, 2022COVID-19 rules continue to change quickly. In a previous blog, we indicated that the paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) would come to an end on July 31, 2022, the deemed IDEL would end on July 30, 2022, and the voluntary IDEL would continue so long as the circumstances leading to an employee’s leave continue and COVID-19 is designated as an infectious disease. Though the end date of the deemed IDEL remains the same and the voluntary IDEL continues to have no set end date, the Ontario government has once again extended the paid IDEL to March 31, 2023. Specifically, on July 21, 2022, the Ontario government filed O. Reg. 464/22: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, which amends O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, by extending Ontario’s paid IDEL days until March 31, 2023.
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Soaring Inflation Rates and Deflated Wages

As inflation rates have soared in recent months, the impact has been felt by employers and employees alike. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s inflation rate, now at 7.7%, has skyrocketed at the fastest pace in almost 40 years. This is the highest rate since 1983. 

In an ideal world, wages would keep up with rising inflation rates. Currently, this is not the case across many industries.  

Why wages can’t keep up?

The relationship between inflation, wages and business costs is circular and intertwined. Due to inflation, both the costs of living and the costs of doing business are drastically increasing, making wage increases for many businesses challenging or, in some cases, unsustainable. If a company is able to invest in higher wages, they likely have to increase the prices of their products and/or services to account for their overhead. Thus a further increase in the cost of living.
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Dealing with both employees and employers daily, we are constantly hearing and seeing how “hot” the job market is right now. Yet employers, in particular, are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers. We are seeing this clear across the board, from the restaurant and retail industries to the corporate world. So, who is the job market “hot” for? And, how can employees and employers take advantage of this scorching time?

What’s Happening with the Job Market? 

The labour market, while hot, is also very tight right now. The unemployment rate is at an extreme low and job vacancies are at an extreme high. Why is this? COVID-19 undoubtedly changed many aspects of the way we work but one of the biggest shifts we saw was moving to remote work. This had a direct impact on the types of employment people sought out. While tech industry businesses had to staff up their growth quickly, hospitality and retail industries took a huge hit to their employment rates, with many shops and restaurants closing. With this, we’ve seen tech, financing, non-commercial real estate, and essentially any areas of work that can excel in remote work, takeoff (if managed properly).
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Disconnecting from work - the why and how for employers and employeesIn our previous blog, we discussed how employers who staff 25 or more employees must implement a written policy addressing disconnecting from work. But, what does this mean for both the employer and the employee and what are the benefits we hope to see? 

It’s no secret the pandemic has entirely changed the way we work. Our homes have become our offices which has caused a huge disruption in our work-life balance. But, the work-from-home mandate is not the only culprit for the changed relationships with our jobs. It started long before that with access to technology everywhere we go. Our work is easily accessible through our phones, tablets, laptops, and maybe even our smartwatch. We have entirely normalized being reachable and accessible at all hours of the day. With pending deadlines and timelines, we’ve seemed to adopt an “always on” approach to work where we somehow feel guilty about shutting down. 
Continue Reading Get That Spring Back in Your Step by Disconnecting

Can Employees Record Work Meetings?
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With the rise of remote working in the past couple of years, virtual work meetings, whether over video or phone call, have become a common occurence. With that comes the issue of recording work calls. In this post, we address the possible risks involved when an employee records work meetings, either surreptitiously or with consent. 

Can an employee legally record a work call?

It is technically legal in Canada for an employee to record a conversation they are a part of, and the employee does not attract criminal liability if they do so surreptitiously, as long as they were a part of the call. However, Courts across Canada have found that surreptitious recording can justify termination for cause. 
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Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
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Introduction – Part II

During Part I of this blog, we outlined three initial legal options for survivors of sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace context. These included filing a workplace complaint, filing a grievance if you are in a unionized setting, or submitting an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Here, we continue to outline the remaining three options for legal redress in this context. 

Asserting a Constructive Dismissal

Per Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, your employer is responsible for ensuring a safe, harassment-free work environment. If you resign from your employment you typically will not be entitled to any compensation from your employer. If you are terminated, you will typically be entitled to notice of termination – colloquially known as a “severance package”. However, the law has carved out an exception in circumstances where the employer’s conduct has been so bad that you essentially have no choice but to quit. This is called a “constructive dismissal.’” Depending on the facts of each case, asserting a successful constructive dismissal claim could result in a damages (compensation) award comparable to what you would have been entitled to had you been terminated. If your constructive dismissal arose out of the context of being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, you may also be entitled to additional forms of compensation including human rights or general damages. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part 2

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
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Introduction – Part I

In the wake of the #MeToo era, a burgeoning consciousness has grown around the existence of and need to address sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. Individuals of all genders and orientations have found the courage to come forward, and legislation in Ontario has made it mandatory for employers to sufficiently investigate these allegations in a timely and comprehensive manner. Trauma-informed Workplace Investigations inherently require a sound understanding of power dynamics and nuanced forms of sexual harassment. New hybrid work models pose unique obstacles for enforcing cyber-bullying and anti-discrimination/harassment policies, and have brought to the forefront the importance of building a workforce predicated on respect, plurality, accountability, legal compliance, and employee well-being. As part of this, employees who experience sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace may have different legal options at their disposal. 

In Part 1, we begin here with a  review of three possible options. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part I

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”.
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Bill 27 Working for Workers Act 2021 and Disconnecting from Work Policies
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As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ontario’s labour market has experienced significant disruptions and a permanently shifted work landscape. Employers are grappling with redefined work locations, rapidly changing public health standards, and the need for economic revitalization. As part of the province’s recovery scheme, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development, established the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC). The Committee’s mandate is to “provide recommendations to position Ontario as the best place in North America to recruit, retain and reward workers.” Its work centers around three pillars: economic recovery, strengthening Ontario’s competitive position, and supporting workers. Integral to the Committee’s work were community stakeholder consultations involving workers, employers, and unions, which invited submissions by July 31, 2021. 
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Recent Changes to the Federal Government’s Covid-19 Benefits Schemes
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As of Saturday, October 23, 2021, a suite of federal benefits formerly slated for both individuals and small businesses was set to expire following several extension periods. In partial response, the federal government has earmarked $7.4 billion for new programs intended to maintain some level of support for businesses and individuals throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

What Is Set To Expire?

On October 23, 2021, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) both expired after their initial implementation in 2020. The Budget Implementation Act would allow the government to extend these programs to November 30, 2021, however, anything beyond this time frame would require the introduction of new legislation. Under the CERS, businesses have a monthly cap of $75,000 on eligible expenses that can be claimed per business location, and $300,000 in total for all locations. In our discussion below, there is potential for an increase in this monthly cap. 
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