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Changing Workplaces Review: Ontario Government Announces Significant Changes to Employment Standards Act

Following the release of the final Changing Workplaces Review report last week, Ontario employers and (and their lawyers) have been anxiously awaiting the government’s response.  In press conference held today Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government would be introducing proposed legislation, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which will amend both the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA).  Click here  for our update on the changes to the LRA.

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Changing Workplaces Review: Ontario Government Announces Significant Changes to Labour Relations Act

As we previously wrote here, last week Ontario’s Ministry of Labour released the final report in its Changing Workplaces Review (Report), which proposed a number of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA).  Today, in response to the recommendations made in the Report,  Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne held a press conference to announce that her government would be introducing proposed legislation, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (the Act), which will amend both the ESA and the LRA. While not providing detail on the specifics of the proposed amendments, the Ontario Government released a Backgrounder outlining its proposed legislative changes. Click here for our update on the proposed changes to the ESA.

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Changing Workplaces Review: Potential Changes on the Horizon for Ontario’s Employment and Labour Laws

After much anticipation, the Special Advisors appointed to lead the Ministry of Labour’s Changing Workplaces Review (Review) released their final report (Report) this past Tuesday (May 22, 2017). The Report proposes a number of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA).

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Highlights from Ontario's Changing Workplaces Review

Today the Ontario Government released its long-awaited final report (Report) in its Changing Workplaces Review (Review). Initiated in February of 2015, the Review aimed to consider broader issues and trends affecting Ontario’s workplaces (such as an increase in precarious employment and a shift from manufacturing to service jobs) and to assess how Ontario’s existing labour and employment law framework addressed those issues.

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Denial of Non-discretionary Bonus Payable After Expiration of Statutory Notice Period Upheld

In a good news decision for employers, the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Kielb v National Money Mart Company, 2017 ONCA 356, denied an employee’s claim for payment of a non-discretionary bonus on the basis that it was expressly excluded by the relevant contract language.

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Ontario’s Employment and Labour Legislation Facing Big Changes

The Liberal government of Ontario has confirmed a release date for its long-awaited Changing Workplaces Review, which solicited feedback on, and will make recommendations regarding changes to, the province’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. The government is targeting the week of May 22, immediately following the Victoria Day holiday.

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Court of Appeal Confirms That Employer’s Failure to Pay $330,000 Bonus Did Not Constitute Constructive Dismissal

When an employer breaches an employment agreement and an employee resigns in response, a critical question is raised: has the employee been constructively dismissed? If so, the employee is deemed to have been terminated and the employer may incur substantial liability for pay in lieu of notice or even punitive damages. However, not every breach of an employment agreement will constitute constructive dismissal, and the resolution of this issue can make all the difference in terms of employer liability.

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Personal Emergency Leave and Bereavement Leave in the Automotive Manufacturing Sector

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, (the ESA), most employees whose employer regularly employs 50 or more employees are entitled to 10 days of unpaid personal emergency leave annually for any of the following reasons:

•  a personal illness, injury or medical emergency;

•  the death, illness, injury or medical emergency of a family member (as listed in the ESA); 

•  an urgent matter that concerns a close family member (as described in the Act).

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Guidance From the Ontario Court of Appeal on the Enforceability of Termination Provisions

In our overview of significant cases and trends in 2016, we reported on a series of decisions signalling a move away from the overly technical interpretation of termination clauses in employment contracts, and a return to a more employer-friendly, common sense approach focusing on the intentions of the parties.

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OHRC Issues Policy Position on Medical Documentation and Disability-Related Accommodation

When faced with a disability-related accommodation request, employers often have questions around the type and scope of medical information they can request from the employee in order to support the accommodation request and facilitate the accommodation process.

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Feb 9, 2017
How to Say What You Mean: The Importance of Contractual Bonus Language

In the last six months, Canadian appellate courts have considered employer’s bonus plans three times. Having discussed the implications of these decisions with many clients, the common reaction seems to be: But that isn’t what we meant when we drafted our plan! Rather than debate how language can be misinterpreted, the more constructive approach simply is to fix it. When these appellate decisions are considered carefully, the take-away message for employers is that incentive plan language will be carefully scrutinized and entitlement only excluded where the language clearly supports that result.  Accordingly, now is the time for employers to review their existing plans and policies and update them, where appropriate, to ensure that they will be interpreted as they intended.

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Supreme Court of Canada Refuses Leave to Appeal in Key Decision Upholding Termination Provision

In another good news development for employers, the Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to appeal in Oudin v Le Centre Francophone de Toronto.

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Jan 17, 2017
Ontario Human Rights Commission Issues Updated Policy on Disability Discrimination

In late 2016 the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the OHRC) issued a new version of its policy on discrimination due to disability, which has been renamed the Policy on Ableism and Discrimination Based on Disability. In its press release announcing the update, the OHRC noted that since the policy was first launched in 2001, there had been significant developments in case law, research and international human rights standards which merited a review of the former policy. The new policy includes use of the term “ableism,” which the OHRC defines as “attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of people with disabilities.”

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Jan 3, 2017
Top 10 Employment & Labour Law Cases and Trends in 2016

2016 was a significant year for employment law with precedent-setting decisions on a variety of issues combined with new legislation that continues to alter the Canadian employment law landscape. While a number of these decisions suggest that a common sense approach to employment law issues may be underway, other decisions and legislative developments highlight the potential liabilities facing employers and the need to remain vigilant.

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Nov 30, 2016
TAGS: Wage Gap
Ontario to Target Wage Gap

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced that it is creating a new working group to provide the government with advice and feedback on how to address the gender wage gap in Ontario. The working group will be comprised of members of the business, labour and human resources communities, as well as representatives of women’s advocacy groups. The working groups are expected to focus on how the government can better leverage tools such as the Pay Equity Act and parental leaves to address gendered wage disparity in the workplace. The Ontario government estimates that Ontario’s gender wage gap ranges from 14% to 26%.

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Ministry of Labour Announces Results of Compliance Blitz

Late last week the Ontario Ministry of Labour posted the outcome of its recent blitz focused on temporary foreign workers and young workers. For the purpose of the blitz, workers under 25 were classified as “young workers.” Both categories of workers are considered to be vulnerable by the Ministry of Labour. 

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Ontario Minimum Wage Increase

Ontario is raising the general minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40 on October 1, 2016.  This is the third consecutive year it has increased.
 

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Compliance Alert: Increase to Minimum Wage and Ministry of Labour Announces New Employment Standards Blitz

The Ministry of Labour has announced a targeted compliance blitz focused on “repeat violators” of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA). The blitz will take place during both September and October 2016. Although the Ministry did not define “repeat violators,” it is safe to assume that it refers to employers who have been prior recipients of compliance orders or successful claims under the ESA.

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Court of Appeal Reverses Trial Judge, Finds Cause and Awards Costs to Employer

In the fall of 2014, Justice Lemon of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decided that a private school had wrongfully dismissed a teacher who had committed academic fraud by submitting grades he knew to be inaccurate and then lied about it when confronted.  The decision seemed all the more egregious as, in addition to awarding the teacher 12 months’ salary and benefits, the Court also found the teacher became disabled following the termination of his employment and was entitled to disability benefits in addition to $130,000 of legal costs awarded on a substantial indemnity basis. 

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Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Enforceability of Notice-Only Termination Provision

In a good news decision for employers, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal of the summary judgment decision of Justice Sean Dunphy which upheld a termination provision that permitted the employer to terminate the employee by providing the “minimum notice required under the Employment Standards Act”. Notably, the termination provision in question in Oudin v Le Centre Francophone de Toronto did not include any reference to severance pay or continuation of benefits, which employee counsel will typically argue renders a termination provision invalid. Copies of the Court of Appeal’s decision and the underlying decision of Justice Dunphy can be found here and here, respectively.

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