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

Government changes to the covid-19 safety measures & workplace policiesAcross Canada, government mandates regarding masking and vaccination are lifting. In Ontario, vaccine passports are no longer required as of March 1 and masking mandates were lifted as of March 21. Employers who previously rolled out vaccination policies may be wondering what these wider government changes mean for their workplace policies. 

Is A Vaccination Policy Necessary?

The shift in governmental approach towards COVID-19 safety protocols will likely mean that employers looking to justify invasions of employee privacy – i.e. disclosing vaccination status –  based on reasonable health and safety concerns will be less able to do so. This is because the consensus, as evidenced by the change in government mandates, is that maybe this need is not based on a legitimate health and safety concern. This may vary depending on the workplace, but we note that even the employee vaccination mandate for long-term care homes –  which was legally required – has been lifted. 
Continue Reading What Does the End of Provincial Covid-19 Safety Measures Mean for Workplace Policies?

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

Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act: Bill 88 proposes new changes to ESA
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Bill 88 has been receiving a lot of media attention for the aspects related to digital platform workers and the proposed creation of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022. While this will impact many workers, it will not have an impact on most employers. Employers do need to pay attention to other aspects of the Bill, which propose new changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000. Chief among these is a new requirement for employers with 25 employees or more to have a written policy with respect to electronic monitoring of employees.

Electronic Monitoring of Employees

If passed, Bill 88 will require that employers who employ 25 employees or more, on January 1 of any given year, have a written policy with respect to the electronic monitoring of employees. The wording of the Bill suggests that even employers who do not electronically monitor employees will be required to have a written policy, provided they employ 25 employees or more on January 1 of any given year. 
Continue Reading Bill 88: More Changes to the Employment Standards Act

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?

back to the workplace
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On January 27, 2022, the Ontario government published Regulation 25/22, which amends the Rules for Areas in Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step (“Rules for Step 3”) with respect to COVID-19. All of Ontario moved into Step 3 on January 31, 2022, under Regulation 26/22. 

The amendments to the Rules for Step 3, as it relates to the workplace, removed the requirement for employers to allow workers to work from home. Other changes include revoking the requirement to record peoples’ contact information when entering specified businesses and reducing capacity limits in public venues.  

Employers were previously required, when Ontario temporarily moved to Step 2 on January 5, 2022, to ensure that their employees worked remotely unless they were required to be on-site given the nature of their work. 
Continue Reading Bringing workers back into the workplace

Sometimes you just need to move on. In this webinar, we will review types of employee exits, employee entitlements on termination, how to conduct a virtual termination meeting and take your questions about employee break-ups!

Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register today: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Breaking Up With Your Employees

Religious accommodation for vaccines
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In the context of the increasing prevalence of vaccine mandates, employee requests for accommodation on religious grounds are becoming common. Religious beliefs and practices and the resulting accommodation requests can be varied and tricky. Today we will take a look at what employers should know and do about requests for accommodation based on religion. 

What Do Employers Need to Accommodate?

Human rights legislation across Canada provides employees with protections from discrimination on the basis of creed or religious beliefs or practices. Employers must accommodate up to the point of undue hardship. 
Continue Reading Religious Accommodation & Vaccination – What’s the deal?

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

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