The state of emergency in Ontario ended on July 24, 2020. This means a new clock has started ticking for employers with employees on what were temporary layoffs but were then converted into deemed Infectious Disease Emergency Leaves (IDEL) by O. Reg 228/20. While this sounds confusing, basically if your employees are off work involuntarily

Employer obligations to accommodate work refusals under the IDEL
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As workplaces re-open, employers are getting all kinds of objections from employees about coming back to work. Common among these are childcare responsibilities. While some daycares and day camps are operating, things are far from normal. What obligation do employers have to accommodate refusals to come back to work due to childcare responsibilities? 

Employee Protection Under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

In Ontario, employees who claim they cannot work due to childcare responsibilities may have job protection under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). The IDEL provides job protection to employees who need to take a leave from work to care for their children whose school or daycare is closed because of COVID-19. The Ministry of Labour Guide on this leave also includes day camps being cancelled as a reason for the leave so we can be sure that the protection is meant to be expansive. 
Continue Reading Family Status Accommodation in the Time of COVID-19

enforceability of specific termination provisions
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This Ontario Court of Appeal decision has been the talk of the town on all the Ontario employment law blogs and while we don’t like to be followers, we also wanted to make sure our readers did not miss this important decision. In Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc. the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled on the enforceability of specific termination provisions in an employment contract, finding the “without cause” termination provision enforceable because of a flaw in the “with cause” provision. 

Courts frequently come up with new ways of invalidating employer drafted termination provisions that would restrict an employee’s entitlement to notice. The enforceability of termination provisions is what lots of employment cases are about. A properly drafted termination provision in an employment contract can significantly limit an employee’s entitlement to notice of termination. For example, a long service employee terminated “without cause” could be entitled to as little as 8 weeks or as much as 2 years of notice depending on the contract. 
Continue Reading Employers Get Out Your Contracts: An Important Ruling on Termination Provisions

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
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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

A Guide for Employers during COVID-19

This GuideA Guide for Employers during COVID-19 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 June 19, 2020).

Further free resources can be found here.

Should you need legal advice on how to manage

My Employee Was Charged with a Criminal OffenceEmployers faced with an employee who has suddenly landed in jail are typically paralyzed with what the heck to do next. It’s easy to see how criminal and employment legal issues start to commingle in that case, but there are many other situations less dramatic where an employer needs to navigate through the tricky world of criminal law.  

And then add in a global pandemic where the courts are largely on pause. Here are some tips on how to handle a criminal law matter in your workplace.


Continue Reading My Employee Was Charged with a Criminal Offence. What now?

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 June 3, 2020).

Further free resources can be found here.

Should you need legal advice on how to manage

new Infectious Disease Emergency Leave regulationAs many of our readers and clients know, we have been cautioning that the legality of certain layoffs and job changes necessitated by COVID-19 is uncertain. Generally, layoffs are only legal if the employment contract gives the employer the right to layoff, and many other job changes, such as reductions in hours or pay, raise the risk of constructive dismissal. We anticipated that at some point the Ontario government may weigh in and change the law – on Friday they did.  

Continue Reading Big Changes for COVID-19 Layoffs in Ontario: New O. Reg 228/20 Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Curtails Constructive Dismissal Claims