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Dos and Don’ts for Your Company Summer Party

A summer party can be a great way to bring your workplace together and build camaraderie. After all, who doesn’t enjoy taking a break from the office grind and spending social time with work friends? But as always, there are pitfalls for unwary employers so we’ve put together a tip sheet on how to avoid catastrophe at your next workplace shindig:

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Bill 66 Becomes Law in Ontario

On April 2, 2019, the Ontario provincial government passed Bill 66, also known as the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (the Act). The law purports to streamline various regulations that apply to businesses in an effort to make Ontario more competitive on the global and national market. The Act amends many different laws in the province but of particular note to Ontario employers are the following changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA):

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Employers Must Update Employment Standards Posting – For Now

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has issued a new version of its Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) poster to reflect recent changes to employment standards in the province. Employers are obligated to post the new version in a conspicuous place in the workplace, provide a copy to any new hires and, where the majority of employees speak a language other than English, post a copy in that language alongside the English version (provided that the Ministry has a translated version of the poster available). A link to Version 8 of the ESA poster and the translated versions can be found here.

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2018: The Year in Review in Employment Law

We often say there is rarely a dull moment in employment law. This year, however, has been exceptionally eventful. From a pendulum swing caused by the change in government to statutory obligations in Ontario, to #metoo, to the legalization of cannabis and its impact on the workplace, it has been an exciting year. We recap the major developments in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and for federally-regulated employers below.

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Unravelling Bill 148 – The Making Ontario Open for Business Act Has Arrived

Significant changes to labour and employment laws in Ontario may again be on the horizon.

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Ontario Human Rights Commission Posts Q and A on Cannabis and the Human Rights Code

With legalization on Ontario’s doorstep, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has issued a new policy discussing the impact of legal cannabis on human rights issues in the province.  The policy document correctly notes that the legalization of cannabis does not change how employers must respond to impairment and addiction at work but it does highlight the rights of employees with scent sensitivities to be protected from cannabis smoke or vapours in the workplace, which is an area of concern that we expect our clients will hear more about as recreational cannabis use becomes more common. 
Helpfully, the policy also specifically acknowledges that employers have no obligation to accommodate an employee’s desire to use cannabis for recreational purposes.
A link to the policy document can be found here.
For more information about the intersection of legal cannabis and human rights at work or any other workplace issues, please reach out to a member of the Cassels Brock Employment & Labour Group.

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Deal or No Deal? When is a Final Release Actually Final?

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice illustrates the challenges employers can face when attempting to enforce a signed release. In Swampillai v. Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, 2018 ONSC 4023 (CanLII), the Court was asked to consider on a motion for summary judgment on whether or not the release signed by Mr. Swampillai at the time of the termination of his employment barred him from pursuing a claim for long term disability benefits. Justice Cavanaugh found that Mr. Swampillai had signed the release under circumstances that were unconscionable and, as such, the release could not prevent him from pursuing a claim for long term disability (LTD) benefits. Mr. Swampillai was thus free to continue his action against his former employer, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (RSA) and Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Sun Life), who acted as the administrator of RSA’s long term disability benefits program, even though the release signed by Mr. Swampillai specifically cited “long term disability benefits” as a released claim. So what went wrong for RSA? To understand the Court’s decision, we need to review the circumstances that existed at the time that RSA and Mr. Swampillai negotiated the severance package.

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Bill C-45 Passes in the Senate, Making Cannabis Legal in Canada

By way of a 52-29 vote, the Canadian Senate has now passed the federal government’s bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Canada. It is now up to the federal government to set a date for formal legalization, with provincial governments receiving an eight to twelve week period to prepare for the sale of the drug within their province. The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent within a matter of days.

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Back to the Drawing Board: Ontario Returns to Old Public Holiday Formula

The Ministry of Labour has announced that, as of July 1, 2018, public holiday pay entitlements in Ontario will be calculated using the formula that existed prior to the enactment of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (FWBJA). Many commentators - including the authors of this blog - had noted that the new formula contained in the FWBJA resulted in a significant windfall for casual employees and arguably unjustified costs for Ontario employers. The Ministry of Labour has responded to these concerns by reinstating the old public holiday rules on an interim basis while it reviews how to simplify public holiday pay entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA).

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Court Confirms that Employers Can Impose Changes in Terms of Employment Upon Provision of Reasonable Notice

In Lancia v. Park Dentistry, 2018 ONSC 751, the Ontario Superior Court found that an employee who resigned after her employer provided 18 months’ notice of changes to certain terms of her employment and a signing bonus had not been constructively dismissed.

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Compliance Alert: Ontario’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Laws in Effect on April 1, 2018

The impacts of Bill 148 continue to be felt by Ontario employers as even more significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA) are starting to come into effect.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Ontario Employers

Ontario employers can be forgiven for a lack of enthusiasm in ringing in 2018.  Several significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) come into effect as of January 1, 2018 and many employers are scrambling to ensure that their policies and practices are up to date.   However, the ESA amendments are not the only employment issues that should be on your radar for 2018.  We’ve put together a short list of suggested New Year’s resolutions to help employers proactively address potential workplace issues in 2018 and beyond.

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Videocast - Bill 148: Significant Changes on the Horizon for Labour and Employment Laws

Cassels Brock recently hosted a seminar highlighting some of the significant changes and implications of Bill 148 and discussing strategies on how to best prepare for these changes to employment standards, enforcement measures and labour relations. You can now watch a videocast of this seminar - featuring Laurie Jessome, Caitlin Russel and Pamela Hinman - here.

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Canada Labour Code to be Amended to Strengthen Provisions on Workplace Harassment

The federal government recently introduced a bill in the House of Commons that would amend both the Canada Labour Code (the Code) and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to address concerns regarding workplace harassment and sexual harassment.  The government says that Bill C-65 is intended to provide victims of workplace bullying, harassment and sexual harassment with better protections and support. It also aims to prevent workplace harassment and bullying by making employers responsible for ensuring that their workers are not subjected to risk of “accidents and physical or psychological injuries and illnesses.”  Previously, the Code’s workplace safety provisions were primarily focused on accidents and injuries.  The inclusion of psychological  injuries and illnesses is a significant expansion of the employer’s health and safety responsibilities toward its workers. The draft Bill would also expand the protections in Part II of the Code (which relate to workplace safety) to Parliamentary employees, who had previously been exempt from those provisions of the Code. 
To achieve these goals, Bill C-65 would  require federally regulated to take the following steps:

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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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