Show all postsFiltered by: Laurie Jessome

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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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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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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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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Ontario Court of Appeal Weighs in on Terminating Fixed Term Contracts

In May of last year we gave our readers an update on a recent Ontario decision regarding early termination of a five year fixed contract, Howard v. Benson Group Inc.  Mr. Howard’s employment was terminated without cause after only 23 months of service.  He brought a claim for payment of the remaining 37 months of the term.  Justice MacKenzie of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked to determine on a motion for summary judgment whether an early termination clause in a five year term agreement was enforceable and if not, what damages were owed to the plaintiff?  Was he entitled to payment for the remaining term of the agreement or would it suffice for the employer to give him reasonable notice of termination?  At a motion for summary judgment, MacKenzie J. found that the without cause termination clause was ambiguous and thus not sufficient to limit Mr. Howard to his Employment Standards Act, 2000 ( “ESA”) minimums.  He then went on to determine that the fixed term agreement did not have any other language that would displace the common law presumption of reasonable notice.  Thus, Mr. Howard was entitled to reasonable notice of termination and not to payment for the remaining term of the contract.  MacKenzie J. also held that Mr. Howard had a duty to mitigate his damages by seeking new employment.

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Apr 11, 2016
TAGS: OHSA
Update on Bill 132: Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act

On March 8, 2016, Bill 132 received Royal Assent at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The Bill is part of the Ontario government’s strategy to support survivors of sexual violence and eliminate sexual harassment.  Bill 132 amends several existing laws that affect people experiencing sexual harassment and violence in the province. Of particular note to employers are the amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act(OHSA).

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Manitoba Government Passes Law Giving Victims of Domestic Violence Paid Leave

The Manitoba Employment Standards Code was recently amended to give victims of domestic violence job-protected leave from work to deal with issues arising from their abuse.  The legislation provides that such individuals are eligible for two categories of annual leave: (i) 10 days, which may be taken intermittently or continuously, 5 of which are to be paid by the employer and (ii) up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave, which can only be taken continuously.   To be eligible for this leave the employee must have been employed for at least 90 days and must be a victim of domestic abuse within the meaning of the Manitoba Domestic Violence and Stalking Act, which defines the concept as follows:

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Ontario Human Rights Commission Issues Rare Clarification of New Policy on Creed

In late 2015, after four years of consultation and research, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) published its Policy on Preventing Discrimination on the Basis of Creed.  The new policy replaced the prior version, which had been published in 1996.  Significantly, the new policy specifically affirmed that, in the Commission’s view, the term “creed” included non-religious belief systems that “substantially influence a person’s identity, worldview and way of life”.  Non-religious beliefs had been excluded from the protection of the Human Rights Code (the “Code”) by the 1996 policy. 

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How Discretionary is Your Discretion? Alberta Court Awards $440,000 for Lost "Discretionary" LTIP

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has recently issued a decision that challenges certain assumptions about how discretionary bonus plans, including Long Term Incentive Plans (“LTIP”), may be dealt with on termination of employment.  In Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corporation 2015 ABQB 621 (CanLii), Justice D.A. Yungwirth found that Mr. Styles was inappropriately deprived of the chance to vest toward LTIP awards granted to him during his employment and awarded him significant damages to compensate him for this lost opportunity.  

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New Report on Mental Health and Addiction Highlights Challenges for Ontario Employers and Employees

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “OHRC”) has recently published a report on people with mental health and addiction disabilities in the province.  The report examines many different obstacles faced by such individuals but the section of the report dealing with the labour force is of particular note to Ontario employers.  First, many readers may be surprised by the prevalence of mental health and addiction disabilities in the workforce.  The report states that approximately 5% of Ontarians over the age of 15 currently identify themselves as having a mental health or addiction-based disability.  The report also notes that a staggering 90.5% of all individuals who have mental health or addiction disabilities also have another, concurrent form of disability.  The presence of multiple, overlapping disabilities certainly adds complexity to the accommodation process.

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Update on the Ontario Government's Special Committee on Sexual Harassment

In November of 2014 we reported on Premier Wynne’s announcement that the Government of Ontario would be striking a special committee to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding the prevention of sexual violence and harassment in Ontario workplaces (the “Select Committee”). The Select Committee’s mandate was also to advise on how best to improve responses to people who have experienced sexual violence and harassment and to present recommendations on how to remove social and other barriers that prevent people from coming forward to report sexual harassment and violence. 

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Is This What to Expect During an Employment Standards Inspection?

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has posted a video it calls, “What to Expect During an Employment Standards Inspection”.  The video, which is just over 5 minutes long, depicts a friendly and orderly process in which the employer is given ten days of advance notice of the inspection and has an opportunity to ask the Employment Standards Officer questions about what its obligations are under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”).  The video states that such inspections are typically prompted by third party information or local intelligence received by the Ministry of Labour or are simply random site visits.  The video does not explicitly state that inspections can be initiated in connection with employee complaints but perhaps that is what is meant by “local intelligence”.

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BC Court of Appeal Upholds Just Cause Termination for Long Service Employee Who Breached IT Policy

A recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal provides helpful guidance for employers who are faced with employees who breach workplace policies regarding the protection of private and confidential information.

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