Free legal updates webinar: 2020 Wrap-Up & Your Questions AnsweredWhat a year it has been in the world of employment law! For our final webinar of 2020, join Lisa Stam and Hilary Page for a quick overview of important legal updates/the current lay of the land, along with an ‘open mic’ for your pressing questions.

Register today for our free SpringForward Legal Updates webinar

Liability protection for businesses for COVID-19 issues
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Last week, on November 17, 2020, the Ontario government passed a law providing liability protection for businesses for COVID-19 issues. The new Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020 is good news for businesses worried about liability if a customer or client is exposed or contracts COVID-19.

The critical, and pretty much deal-breaking carve out for employers, however, is that employers are NOT protected from claims from employees.
Continue Reading New Business Liability Protection Act Carves out Employee Claims

employee tests covid-19 positive
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As case numbers rise, employers and employees alike may wonder what they should do if an employee or a co-worker tests Covid-19 positive. 

If An Employee is COVID-19 Positive

Obviously, an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not return to work until they are no longer COVID-19 positive. In Ontario, workplaces are currently required to administer the daily screening tool, which ideally catches any infected employee early. 

Employers should assess the infected employee’s past actions and potential contacts. It may not be necessary to close the entire workplace, but it may make sense to close off their work area or the bathroom they used for a time and then to thoroughly disinfect the area.
Continue Reading Covid-19 Infections At Work

A Guide for Employers during COVID-19A Guide for Employers during COVID-19

This Guide sets out the key employment law issues to consider, as well as the government’s financial relief options to explore to get through this deep economic crisis.  (Last Updated October 21, 2020).

Further free resources can be found here.

Should you need legal advice on how to manage

New COVID-19 health and safety compliance obligations
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The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in the Ontario government amending regulation  O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“the Regulation”). The new amendment took effect on Saturday, September 26, 2020, and imposes on employers new health and safety compliance obligations related to COVID-19, specifically employee screening, or as the Regulation puts it:

“The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.”
Continue Reading New Mandatory Employer Obligation – Ongoing COVID-19 Workplace Screening

A Guide for Employers during COVID-19A Guide for Employers during COVID-19

This Guide sets out the key employment law issues to consider, as well as the government’s financial relief options to explore to get through this deep economic crisis.  (Last Updated August 27, 2020).

Further free resources can be found here.

Should you need legal advice on how to manage

workplace law advice for employers
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In these challenging times, in the midst of the pandemic, as workplaces re-open, pivot and change, we see the importance and immense value of having strategic employment and workplace law advice. Just a small allocation of thought space and time to being proactive could have changed the outcome of so many situations. We see it now in our firm in many ways. 

Having run a small business for over a decade, I can appreciate that employers are often triaging the urgent demand of finding solutions to client’s needs. Rarely did I have the time or opportunity to “smell the roses” let alone try to proactively anticipate the workplace law needs of my growing organization. However, I now see the critical importance of taking a proactive approach.
Continue Reading Workplace Law: It Pays To Be Proactive

workplace violence and harassment
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When it comes to workplace violence and prevention, the federal government has been playing catch up with the provinces. Starting in 2017, the feds have been working on amendments to the Canada Labour Code (CLC) to more fully address workplace violence and harassment. While Bill-65 – snappily named An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 – establishing the amendments was passed in 2018, the changes had not come into effect nor had a date for their coming into effect been announced. New regulations were announced on June 24, 2020, which provide employers with more details regarding what will be required of them and setting out an effective date of January 1, 2021, for the changes. There are also requirements that employers need to meet before January 1, 2021. More details can be found on the government site here.  
Continue Reading New Federal Anti-Workplace Violence and Harassment Requirements

internal vs external workplace investigations
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So you’ve received a harassment complaint from one employee about another employee. What do you do? Do you have to investigate?  Can you use your common sense and just discipline? Is the complaint clearly BS in the first place? What if the complaint is about a break-the-company level fraud by your CFO?

Workplace investigations are usually an unwelcome but necessary business diversion. Many employers would rather avoid them and will attempt, or seek counsel’s validation for, a quick and dirty alternative such as a quick-release termination of the alleged wrongdoer or relocation of the complainant. But these are not alternatives to investigating, are never the upfront solution and often fail to satisfy the legal obligation to properly investigate. These responses are more likely to expose an employer to greater liability.

A complaint of workplace misconduct needs to move quickly, and yet is no time for fast thinking. Employers should instead think carefully about the substance of the complaint, the impact on the involved parties and the business fallout if their response is the wrong one. 
Continue Reading Do I have to hire a super expensive external investigator? Maybe. Maybe not.

The CEWS, the CERB and Returning to Work
Photo by Ewien van Bergeijk – Kwant on U

As we look towards returning to work and re-opening businesses we thought we would re-visit the CEWS and CERB, both of which have recently been extended. 

The CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) continues to provide employers with a wage subsidy to bring employees back. The CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) may be working against employers in some instances, where employees do not want to come back or serve to make more money by not working and staying on the CERB. 

Extension of the CEWS

The government has doubled the length of the CEWS program to now extend until August 29, 2020. Eligibility for the CEWS is broken down into periods, where an employer needs to demonstrate a specific revenue reduction for that period. Periods 5 (July 5 – August 1) and 6 (August 2 to August 29) are expected to require a 30% reduction in revenue, however, details have not yet been announced.
Continue Reading The CEWS, the CERB and Returning to Work