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

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

reasonable termination notice
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How much notice should you give your employee on termination? A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Herreros v Glencore Canada reiterates that when calculating the period of reasonable notice owed to a wrongfully dismissed employee, it is the circumstances at the time of termination that matter. 

The rule comes from a decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Holland v Hostopia.com. It states: “Notice is to be determined by the circumstances existing at the time of termination and not by the amount of time that it takes the employee to find employment”. We blogged about the rule here and here in our updates about employment litigation during the pandemic. 
Continue Reading Reasonable Notice: An Opportunity Not A Guarantee

Is remote work ending?
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Is remote work ending? Many of our employer clients are making plans for a return to in-person work. Likely many employees have mixed feelings about a return to the office. Sure, not wearing real pants has been nice, but many miss the in-person social aspects of work, and would maybe welcome a little bit of separation from their families, annoying cat, or their neighbour’s lawnmower. Today we will discuss some return-to-work issues.

Can I Require My Employees to Return to Work?

Employers can definitely tell their employees that they are required to return to the office. How strong a stance employers want to take on this will depend and some flexibility will likely be warranted. 
Continue Reading The End of Remote Work?

Workplace harassment and the employer’s duty to correct it
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Occupational health and safety legislation in Ontario protects workers from the risk and harm of harassment at work. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) employers have a legal duty to guard against and correct workplace harassment no matter how small the team. 

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding workplace safety and the employer’s obligations. 

Harassment Can Go By Many Names

Bullying is harassment. Employees sometimes think that the form of harassment they are facing is less serious than the harassment that OHSA targets. But any euphemism for harassment, like bullying or mocking, doesn’t make it less harmful to workplace health and safety. Even lighthearted bullying can count as harassment under OHSA and the employer will have a duty to prevent and act on it. OHSA says that:
Continue Reading Workplace Harassment: the Employer’s Duty

IDEL and Constructive Dismissal
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The Ontario Superior Court has ruled once again on the right of an employee to assert a constructive dismissal in light of the O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“the Regulation”) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). In the latest decision, the court ruled that the Regulation does not preclude an employee from asserting a common law constructive dismissal. 

As discussed in previous posts, under the Regulation neither a reduction in the employees hours of work or wages constitute a constructive dismissal under the ESA if they occur during the COVID-19 Period. The COVID-19 Period keeps changing on us, but it currently runs from March 1, 2020 to September 25, 2021.  There have been conflicting decisions about whether the Regulation also removes an employee’s right to assert a constructive dismissal under the common law. 
Continue Reading Another Ruling on the IDEL and the Employee’s Right to Pursue Common Law Constructive Dismissal

severance and employer payroll threshold
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A new ruling from Ontario’s Divisional Court has changed which employees will be entitled to severance pay. While the law has been mixed, it was generally the case that the $2.5 million payroll threshold for the purposes of calculating severance pay applied to Ontario payroll only. The Divisional Court has now ruled that global payroll should be considered. 

What’s Severance Pay?

In Ontario, employers with a payroll of more than $2.5 million must, upon termination or severance of employment, pay severance pay to employees with five or more years of service. This aspect of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) increases the legal minimums employers are required to pay to long service employees significantly. Under the ESA, notice of termination caps out at 8 weeks, whereas severance pay can be up to 26 weeks. 
Continue Reading Heads up Multinational Employers! A Change to the $2.5 Million Payroll Threshold Calculation.

IDEL and constructive dismissalsLast month we blogged about the  Ontario Superior Court’s decision in Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd. (Coutinho) when the court ruled that an employee placed on Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL), established by O.Reg 228/20 (the Regulation), could still bring an action for constructive dismissal at common law. The plot has thickened with the release this month of a contradictory decision in Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc. (Taylor).

In the Taylor decision, the court considered the same issue – is the employee precluded by the Regulation from bringing a claim for constructive dismissal under the common law, when their hours are reduced or eliminated as a result of the pandemic? While the court in Coutinho concluded no, the court in Taylor has concluded yes. 

Where does that leave us? Because these two decisions are from the same level of court, neither has more weight than the other for later judges who might be deciding cases on similar facts. When decisions of the same level conflict, we need a higher court to weigh in – in this case, that would be the Ontario Court of Appeal. 
Continue Reading Good News for Employers: A New Decision On Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL