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Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, Passes Second Reading

On June 1, 2017, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. As we have previously reported, if passed, Bill 148 will significantly alter the employment and labour landscape in Ontario. Today, Bill 148 passed Second Reading after debate in the Ontario Legislature, moving one step closer toward becoming law. The Ontario Government published a news release regarding the Bill’s status, which can be found here.

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New prohibited grounds of discrimination may be added to Ontario’s Human Rights Code

The Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2017 (“Bill 164”) was introduced to the Ontario Legislature and passed First Reading on October 4, 2017.  Bill 164 proposes to add four new prohibited grounds of discrimination to Ontario’s Human Rights Code:

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Ontario Labour Relations Board Opens the Door to Franchisee Unionization in the Canada Bread Certification Case

The Ontario Labour Board has found that Canada Bread’s drivers, who were principals of franchisee corporations that contracted with Canada Bread for the right to deliver products along designated routes, are dependent contractors and capable of being certified into bargaining units.

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I Want a Second Opinion: When Can Employers Require an Independent Medical Examination?

Many employers have found themselves in a situation where their employee has provided a medical note or doctor’s recommendation that doesn’t seem quite right.  But how do you investigate further without invading your employee’s privacy and without breaching your duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”)?  A recent decision of the Ontario Divisional Court, Bottiglia v. Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario 2017 ONSC 2517 (“Bottiglia”) provides some helpful guidance.

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Changes to Bill 148: More Obligations for Ontario Employers

On June 1, 2017, the government introduced Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. As we have previously reported, if passed, Bill 148 will significantly alter the employment and labour landscape in Ontario. For an overview of the proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) found in the original version of Bill 148, see our previous posts on changes to the ESA and changes to the LRA.

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Human Resources Professionals Association Issues White Paper on Marijuana at Work

With legalization of recreational marijuana use on its way, many Canadian employers have been looking for guidance on how to respond to a potential increase in the number of employees who have access to or make use of cannabis products. The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has recently issued a white paper identifying some of the issues employers may face once the Cannabis Act comes into effect and making some recommendations for both employers and government. In connection with preparing this white paper, the HRPA conducted a survey of its members and found that only 11% of responding human resources professionals believed that their workplace policies addressed the use of medical marijuana in the workplace at all and 46% believed their workplace policies did not adequately cover issues that may arise as a result of legalization of recreational marijuana. Close to 90% of respondents had no personal experience with accommodating an employee who used medical marijuana. 

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A Rare Win for an Employer’s Ability to Drug Test

As Canadian employers and U.S. employers with Canadian subsidiaries well know, the climate in Canada has never been favourable to drug and alcohol testing.  Earlier this month, however, the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed an employer’s decision to terminate the employment of an employee who, post-accident, tested positive for drugs – even after he disclosed that he thought he was addicted to cocaine.  The case is Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30.

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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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