Working for Workers Act received Royal Assent, making it now law
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In March, we blogged about Bill 88 or the Working for Workers Act (part 2) (the Act). You can read that post here. On April 11, 2022, the Act received Royal Assent, making it now law. Most significant to employers, who are not Uber etc., are the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000  (ESA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The Act has attracted the most attention for the creation of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022, which will have big implications for digital platform workers and “employers” like Uber and Skip the Dishes, however, the Act impacts non-digital platform employers too. 

Here’s the rundown of what’s new in the ESA and the OHSA.
Continue Reading Working for Workers Act 2 Passes in the Ontario Legislature: What Employers Who Aren’t Uber Need to Know to Comply

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. 
Continue Reading Can Employees Record Work Meetings?

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

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

Updated Ontario COVID-19 Restrictions
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The Government of Ontario has again released an update on its COVID-19 public health measures and advice. As many of our readers know, given the recent changes in the public health situation, new measures have been implemented and are in effect from January 5 until January 27, 2022. Read on to find out how these new rules, in addition to the temporary closure of schools and mandatory remote learning until January 17, 2022, will impact employers.
Continue Reading Back at Home: An Update on COVID-19 Restrictions