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Category Archives: Occupational Health and Safety

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Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and Manslaughter Charges – An Important Reminder for Employers and Supervisors

Posted in Ministry of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety

On October 31, 2016, the Québec Superior Court issued its decision in R v. Fournier, concluding that a business owner’s breach of occupational health and safety legislation supports his committal to trial on a charge of manslaughter under the Criminal Code.

The circumstances leading to this decision began on April 3, 2012, when a worker replacing a sewer line in a trench died due to the collapse of the trench walls.

Mr. Fournier, the owner of the business employing the worker, was personally charged and committed to trial for (1) criminal negligence causing death under section 220(b) of … Continue Reading

Hiring Seasonal Workers for the Holidays? 10 Things Employers Need to Know

Posted in Employment, Employment Agreements, Employment Standards, Hours of Work, Occupational Health and Safety, Overtime, Pay, Recruiting, Retail, Seasonal/Temporary Employees, Termination, training, Wage and Hours

As retailers and other seasonal employers gear up for the holiday rush, many hire additional temporary staff to ensure they are ready for crowds of shoppers and extended holiday hours.

In preparation for this time of year, we made a list (and checked it twice!) of issues that Ontario seasonal employers should keep in mind in relation to these employees:

Recruitment & Hiring

  • Avoid Human Rights Concerns in Interviews. When hiring employees to work during the holiday season, it may be tempting to ask questions which directly or indirectly result in the disclosure of information relating to the prohibited
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The Deadline is Fast Approaching: Top 5 Items to Prepare for Bill 132 OHSA Compliance

Posted in harassment, Occupational Health and Safety, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence, Workplace Investigations

Navigating the complexities of workplace harassment is a challenging process for employers.  It often requires the allocation of considerable time and resources to investigate complaints and has the potential to result in significant costs to an organization if it is required to defend its actions or response to litigation.

With the changes to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) under Bill 132 that come into effect on September 8, 2016, workplace harassment will continue to be a top priority for employers.

What has changed with Bill 132?

  • As we have outlined in a previous post, Bill 132 expands
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New Paid and Unpaid Leaves Proposed for Ontario Employees

Posted in Accommodation, Accommodation, Leaves of Absence, Occupational Health and Safety, Sexual Violence, training

Last month, the Government of Ontario introduced two bills which would provide for new leaves under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 as well as new training obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Leave proposed for grieving parents

On March 8, 2016, the Government introduced Bill 175, Jonathan’s Law (Employee Leave of Absence When Child Dies), 2016. Under Bill 175, an employee who has been employed by his or her employer for at least six consecutive months will be entitled to a leave of absence without pay of up to 52 weeks if a child of the … Continue Reading

Combatting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Formal Measures Required by September 2016

Employers required to have new and updated workplace harassment policies, procedures and training in place by September 8, 2016.

Posted in Investigations, Occupational Health and Safety, Policies, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence

As we wrote about late last year, the Government of Ontario has moved forward with its plan to address sexual violence and harassment. Last week, Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015, received Royal Assent.

While Bill 132 amends various legislation, employers should pay particular attention to the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act which aim to bolster employee protection from workplace harassment. These changes impose a September 8, 2016 deadline on employers that requires them to address the following:

  • Review (and if necessary, amend)
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Mental Health Matters

Posted in Accommodation, Mental Health, Occupational Health and Safety, Policies

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day which serves as a great reminder about the importance of promoting discussion and dialogue around mental health. For employers, there are various challenges associated with addressing mental health which includes the identification, accommodation and organizational approach to the issue. To help combat the stigma and negative perceptions around mental health, today is a good opportunity to focus attention on the legal framework, accommodation process and best practices surrounding mental health in the workplace.… Continue Reading

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Not just a human rights issue, but safety as well

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety, Policies

New legislation will require employers to revise their workplace harassment policies, procedures and training by Summer 2016

Earlier this year, we wrote about the Government of Ontario’s plan to address sexual violence and harassment in Ontario.  By way of update, Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015 proceeded to second reading on December 2, 2015. Having only been introduced a month ago, this indicates that the Ontario Government is quickly moving forward with that plan.

Most important for employers are the amendments to the Occupational Health Continue Reading

Mental Illness in the Workplace – Lessons from Germanwings

Posted in Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Policies

My colleagues Tim Lawson and Justine Lindner recently drafted an important article titled, “Lessons from Germanwings: Identifying and Managing Mental Illness in the Workplace.”  For those not familiar, a flight by Germanwings from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed in the French Alps.  Evidence was released showing that the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane.  Then, more information came to light that suggested the co-pilot suffered from a mental illness and that he may have not been fit to fly.

As many human resources professionals already understand, identifying and accommodating mental illness is extremely difficult to manage in the workplace.  The … Continue Reading

New Sexual Harassment Laws Coming Soon to the Workplace

Posted in Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Policies

On March 6, 2015, the Ontario Government published its plan aimed at addressing sexual violence and harassment in Ontario.  The document is titled, “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment” (the “Action Plan”).  The Action Plan has a lot to say about a very important subject and I encourage readers to review the entire document.  This post though is limited to the Government’s recommended changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) to deal with workplace sexual harassment.

Employers are already obligated to create a workplace harassment policy and to investigate harassment … Continue Reading

Ontario Government Makes Major Changes to Workplace Laws

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, has received royal assent and is now the law.  As we have previously reported, this Bill significantly amends workplace laws, including the Employment Sandards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), the Labour Relations Act (“LRA”) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (“WSIA”)

Some of the major changes include:

  • Linking minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index. The Government would publish the new minimum wage arising from the formula by April 1st of each year.
  • Eliminating the $10,000 cap on claims for unpaid
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From the Desk of the HR Manager, November 2014

Holiday Parties

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety

Melissa Kennedy is a labour relations, employment and human resources specialist who assists clients with proactively managing compliance, risk and ensuring best practices are in place.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many organizations are in the midst of planning their annual holiday parties, meant to recognize the culmination of a year of hard work by employees and celebrate the holiday season. Although this time of year is marked with celebration and provides for a valuable team building opportunity, it can also bring with it particular obligations and potential liabilities for an employer.

When planning and hosting a holiday party, … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, October 2014

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety

Melissa Kennedy is a labour relations, employment and human resources specialist who assists clients with proactively managing compliance, risk and ensuring best practices are in place.

The excitement is building in anticipation of this year’s annual McCarthy Tétrault Client Conference on Friday, November 7, 2014.

The Conference will open with a plenary discussion of Mental Health in the Workplace. As society works to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues, employers grapple with how to identify, address and manage such issues in the workplace. In this session, Paul Boniferro, myself and special guest speaker Dr. Ash Bender will bring … Continue Reading

Following an OHSA Order is not a Mitigating Factor in Sentencing

Posted in Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Policies

A recent decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal stands for the principle that with respect to sentencing under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), you will not receive any credit for doing something you were ordered to do.

In Ontario (Labour) v. Flex-N-Gate Canada Company, 2014 ONCA 53, the employer was convicted of two offences under the OHSA for failing to properly transport metal sheets with a forklift, which resulted in the injury to a worker’s foot. Following the accident, the Ministry of Labour issued two orders involving the movement of material, which the … Continue Reading

New Human Rights Decision Provides Guidance on Frustration of Contract

When is an employment agreement frustrated?

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Termination

We are often asked by our clients how long one of their employees has to be off work before it can justifiably take the position that an employment relationship has been “frustrated”.  Employers often wonder this because when an employment relationship is frustrated, the employee is not entitled to common law notice or pay in lieu of such notice [1]. So, how long does it take? 1 year? 18 months? 2 years? 5 years?

A recent Human Rights Tribunal decision, Gahagan v. James Campbell Inc., 2014 HRTO 14, appears to provide some guidance on this issue.… Continue Reading

Ontario Government Proposes Major Changes to Workplace Legislation

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation

On December 4, 2013, the Ontario government introduced Bill 146, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2013. Bill 146 implements some of the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission of Ontario that submitted a report on vulnerable workers.

Although the bill has just been introduced, if it passes through the legislature and then receives royal assent, it will have a significant impact on workplace regulation in Ontario. Some of the key proposed changes (which are summarized in detail here) include the following:… Continue Reading

McCarthy Tétrault’s Labour Group Issues Timely Advice on Holiday Parties

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety

Following up on my last winter-related post An Employer’s Obligations During Flu Season, and with the holiday season just around the corner, the Labour & Employment Group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP has just published an important and timely piece on employer responsibilities and potential liability during staff parties and social events.

Please click here to access the article. It is not too early to take appropriate precautions at your holiday parties.… Continue Reading

An Employer’s Obligations During Flu Season

Posted in Employment Standards, Human Rights, Leaves of Absence, Occupational Health and Safety

The weather is getting colder, the holidays are approaching and flu season is soon to be upon us.  That means sick employees forced to miss work. Besides ensuring that productivity does not suffer, employers also need to be cognizant of their legal obligations towards their employees during flu season.  Here are a few important points to keep in mind:… Continue Reading

Employer’s Random Alcohol Testing Policy Constitutes Unreasonable Invasion of Employees’ Rights to Privacy

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Termination

An employee’s right to ensure workplace safety versus an employee’s right to privacy – these competing rights have been present in the workplace for many years. On one hand, employers must be able to adopt policies to protect their workforce and abide by statutory health and safety obligations. On the other hand, employees expect that they will not be subject to intrusive policies that unreasonably infringe on their privacy expectations.

In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper, Limited, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently weighed in on how to balance … Continue Reading

47 Recommendations on Employment Standards and Health and Safety

Posted in Accommodation, Employment Standards, Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, Wage and Hours

On April 3, 2013, the Law Reform Commission of Ontario released a report (all 176 pages), Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work: Final Report – December 2012.  The report is, in essence, a policy-heavy document reflecting the Commission’s views on how the Ontario government can better “respond to the challenges faced by vulnerable workers.” The Commission came up with a list of 47 “recommendations” dealing with legislative and policy reform of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

What is striking about the report (and what employers should be concerned about) is that … Continue Reading

Ontario Court of Appeal Rules “Sometimes a Swimming Pool Is Just a Swimming Pool”

Posted in Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently released its decision in Blue Mountain Resorts Limited v. Ontario (Labour), 2013 ONCA 75, overturning a Divisional Court decision (2011 ONSC 3057) on the duties of employers and contractors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to report a death or a “critical injury” to the Ministry of Labour (Ministry). Our previous piece on the onerous requirements on employers resulting from the Divisional Court decision can be found here.

Brief Overview

In this case, a guest of Blue Mountain Resorts drowned in the resort swimming pool. The Divisional

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