Header graphic for print
Ontario Employer Advisor Keeping Employers Advised on Developments in Labour and Employment Law

Category Archives: Policies

Subscribe to Policies RSS Feed

Government of Ontario releases the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Policies

The Government of Ontario has now released the much anticipated Final Report of the Changing Workplaces Review. The product of a two-year comprehensive review of employment and labour laws in Ontario, the Final Report contains 173 recommendations that could significantly alter the landscape for workplaces across the province.  Although currently only recommendations, the Government of Ontario has already announced that it will release its proposed “action plan” within the coming weeks. 

Yesterday, the Government of Ontario finally released the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report which comprehensively reviews Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (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)
Continue Reading

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

Overtime Pay and the Cost of Non-Compliance: Three Misconceptions About Overtime Pay in Canada

Posted in Policies, Wage and Hours

If you’re like most Canadian employers, it is likely you have not looked deeply into your overtime pay obligations.

My experience in acting for employers as a partner in Labour and Employment law at McCarthy Tétrault is that many companies unknowingly violate overtime pay requirements and, as a consequence, have accumulated significant financial liability.  Here are three common misconceptions employers have regarding overtime pay requirements:

1. Paying a fair and fixed salary “covers off” overtime. Wrong. Most salaried employees are not required to punch in or to formally record their time.  However, a fixed salary and a flexible work environment … 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

Brace yourself, more changes to Ontario’s labour and employment laws likely to come

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Policies

Consultations are now underway as part of the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s (“MOL”) Changing Workplaces Review.

Announced in February, the MOL has indicated that the Changing Workplaces Review will focus on potential changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995.  This review is part of the MOL’s broader mandate to implement employment and labour law reforms in their effort to strengthen protections for vulnerable workers and support businesses in today’s evolving economy.  Specifically, the Changing Workplaces Review and consultations seek to address:… 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

A “Without Cause” Dismissal is Not Automatically an “Unjust” Dismissal: A Federal Employment Law Update

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Policies

The decision in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, released by the Federal Court of Appeal (the “FCA”) on January 22, 2015, marks the end of a long-standing tug of war. The FCA held that non-unionized employees in the federal sector do not have a “right to a job” and that dismissal from employment on a without cause basis is not automatically an “unjust dismissal” under the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”).

Part III of the Code provides an adjudication process for non-unionized employees who claim that they have been unjustly dismissed from their employment. An … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, December 2014

Setting Performance Objectives

Posted in Employee Obligations, Policies

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.

As we set to embark upon the year’s end, now is an appropriate time to begin goal setting and implementing employee performance objectives for the new year. Establishing clear expectations which are tied to the overall mission and vision of the organization, and which are aligned with and cascaded from senior leadership, will ensure that employees understand their role and value within the organization, and will work to continually motivate them throughout the year.Continue Reading

Comply With the AODA or Pay the Piper

Posted in Accommodation, Discipline, Policies

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) is an Ontario law whose purpose is to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2021. Since January 1, 2012 Ontario employers with 20 or more employees were required to be compliant with the AODA’s Customer Service Standard.   Compliance includes filing an Accessibility Report.

Likewise, since January 1, 2014, Ontario private sector employers with 50 or more employees have been required to comply with requirements under the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standard.  This includes filing another Accessibility Report on or before December … Continue Reading

Ministry of Labour “Rings Up” $240,000 from Retail Inspection Blitz

Posted in Employment Standards, Investigations, Policies, Wage and Hours

A Ministry of Labour (“Ministry”) inspection is never a pleasant experience for employers. Ministry inspectors have very broad powers to enter the workplace and inspect company documents to ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) or the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). Sometimes these inspections are random.  Sometimes they are initiated by an employee/union complaint. Most of the time, an employer is not aware or ready for an inspection.

Even though the Ministry has these powers, sometimes even a management lawyer has to give them credit. I say this because recently the Ministry of Labour has been … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, August 2014

Five Advantages of Contracting Out Disability Claims Management

Posted in Policies

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.

Illness related absences can significantly impact an organization’s productivity and be quite costly as a result. In 2011, Canadians took an average of 9.3 sick days, costing the economy approximately $16.6 billion[i]. Accordingly, it is important that short and long term disability claims be managed effectively, with the express goal of safely returning the employee to work, in a timely manner.

There are a number of advantages for an organization to contract … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, July 2014

Organizational Dress Codes

Posted in Policies

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.

Employees act as the face of an organization and representatives of its overall brand and image. Appropriate and professional work attire is necessary in building and maintaining this distinct impression with customers and clients alike.

The type of industry and work environment that an organization operates in can certainly direct the expected level of attire. A more casual level of dress may be encouraged in a creative work environment, whereas more formal business attire … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, June 2014

Posted in Policies

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.

Regular attendance is key to maintaining a successful, productive organization.  A full-time job cannot be performed by a part-time employee. An employee should be expected to come to work ready to perform the requirements of their job every day; excessive tardiness and absenteeism cannot be tolerated. Managing employee attendance is critical in maintaining an efficient and effective workforce, and creates a number of challenges for organizations.

Perhaps the most significant challenge presented by poor … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager, May 2014

Psychological Health in the Workplace

Posted in Policies

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 Canadian Mental Health Association recognizes May 5th through 11th each year as Mental Health Week in Canada. The impact of psychological illness in the workplace is becoming increasingly prevalent, resulting in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and impacts on an employer’s health care programs, as well as negative consequences for employee engagement and morale, employee well-being and organizational culture.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that one in five Canadians will … Continue Reading

Ontario Adds Three New Job-Protected Leaves for Families

Posted in Employment Standards, Leaves of Absence, Policies

On April 29, 2014, Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, received Royal Assent and is set to come into force October 29, 2014. With the passing of this bill, employees in Ontario are now entitled to three new job-protected leaves (in addition to any entitlement to any other leave under the Employment Standards Act).  These new leaves are:

 

  • Family Caregiver Leave;
  • Critically Ill Child Care Leave; and
  • Crime-Related Death or Disappearance Leave.

Some of the key features of these leaves (which we reported on previously in March 2013 when the … Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager: Spring Cleaning – Performing an HR Audit

Posted in Discipline, Policies

As spring is upon us, it is an appropriate time of the year for an organization to perform an audit of its human resources process. HR audits ensure regulatory and organizational policy compliance, while proactively pursuing internal efficiencies and excellence. Regular and systematic audits demonstrate due-diligence to regulatory bodies (e.g. Ministry of Labour) and promote a proactive, preventative approach to HR issues, subsequently reducing risk and liabilities.

An efficient human resources process generates effective practices, cost reduction, increased productivity, employee engagement and continual improvement. Areas of focus for a human resources audit include:

Personnel Files

Ensure that the following items … Continue Reading

Ontario Human Rights Commission Releases New Policy on Gender Identity and Gender Expression

Posted in Accommodation, Discrimination, Human Rights, Policies

On April 15, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the Commission) published a new comprehensive policy entitled Policy on preventing discrimination because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression. According to the Commission, the policy

is a complete revision and update of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC’s) original Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity first published in 2000.

Its stated purpose is to discuss and promote understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) and to help employers recognize and meet their legal obligations under the Code not … Continue Reading

No Perfect Attendance Bonus to Employee on Workers’ Compensation Leave of Absence

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Discrimination, Human Rights, Policies

Managing absenteeism and dealing with the associated costs are among the most difficult things employers face. Accordingly, many employers try to incentivize employees to improve their attendance by providing bonuses based on meeting attendance thresholds. Seems simple enough. However, what if an employee is off work on a disability leave? That employee is off work through no fault of his/her own yet otherwise had perfect attendance. Should such an employee be able to claim the attendance bonus?

A recent arbitration decision says “no”.… 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

Be Prepared to Justify Employee Dress Code Policies

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Obligations, Human Rights, Policies

Most people have experience with an employee uniform or dress code policy (mine is “business casual”). There are often very good reasons to have employees look or dress a certain way. It can assist with productivity, promote professionalism and branding, and ensure uniformity. As such, employees’ attire/appearance can be a legitimate concern for employers. However, to the extent that a policy has no rational connection to a business need or unduly infringes on an employee’s self expression, it may be successfully challenged by unions.… Continue Reading

Customer Contacts on LinkedIn = Property of the Employer

Posted in Employee Obligations, Litigation, Policies, Social Media

Ever since the days that employment law was referred to as “master and servant” law, employees have owed various common-law duties and, for some employees, fiduciary obligations to their employer. These obligations take many forms, but key is that an employee cannot misappropriate an employer’s confidential or proprietary information. In the days before social media, this was fairly easy to describe. Generally speaking, an employee could not print or email to himself a copy of the employer’s customer list, and then use that list to compete against the employer. But what if that customer list is not a document, but … Continue Reading