Reconsidering random drug and alcohol testing in Canada

July 10, 2016 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

Random workplace drug and alcohol testing is generally prohibited by Canadian employers in Canada. However, there are limited circumstances in which it may be permitted. A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Suncor Energy Inc. v. Unifor Local 707A, provides some further guidance for employers operating in Canada. And provides them with a glimmer of hope. read more…

Benefits beyond age 65?

June 26, 2016 - by: Marc Rodrigue 0 COMMENTS

By Marc Rodrigue

The laws that generally provided for mandatory retirement in Canada have been eliminated. Across Canada, with very few exceptions, employees generally cannot be forced to retire at age 65. But can their benefits be cut off at age 65?

Even if employers are permitted to cut off benefits to workers 65 and older under human rights antidiscrimination laws, are they contractually entitled to do so? Recent labor arbitration decisions indicate that if employers don’t properly contract to cut off benefits, they may not be entitled to cut off benefits at all.

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Overcoming the hurdles in managing workers’ compensation claims

June 12, 2016 - by: David Marchione 0 COMMENTS

by David Marchione, OHS Consultant/Paralegal

Many employers struggle to efficiently manage workers’ compensation claims. Most provincial experience rating programs established by workers’ compensation boards are based on two things: claim costs and claim duration. Thus, a failure by an employer to efficiently manage a claim can result in increased costs and increased duration of the claim, thus leading to a negative impact on the employer’s experience rating. The situation is further complicated by the fact that managing a worker’s return to work often becomes more difficult as time passes. read more…

Healthcare workers’ longer hours don’t necessarily increase health, safety risks

May 15, 2016 - by: Rosalind Cooper 0 COMMENTS

by Rosalind H. Cooper

Most employers know that there are restrictions under employment standards legislation regarding maximum hours of work for their employees. In certain circumstances, it is possible to exceed these daily or weekly maximums. However, care must be exercised when doing so in order to avoid a breach of the employer’s duties under occupational health and safety legislation. This issue was explored in the recent Ontario decision of Durham (Regional Municipality) v. Canadian Union of Public Employees. read more…

Workers’ comp changes for post-traumatic stress disorder claims

April 03, 2016 - by: Brandon Wiebe 0 COMMENTS

by Brandon Wiebe

A second Canadian province, Manitoba, recently amended its Workers Compensation Act to create a rebuttable presumption that claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are work-related. But Manitoba’s law is novel in that it applies to all workers, regardless of occupation. read more…

Workplace health through a new lens: steps to promote psychological well-being

February 14, 2016 - by: Cathy Chandler 0 COMMENTS

by Cathy Chandler

The workplace can play an essential role in helping individuals maintain positive mental health. However, it also can be a stressful environment that may contribute to mental health issues and illness. In a 2009 study three out of 10 Canadian employees reported that their work environments were not psychologically safe or healthy. Mental health is an important occupational health and safety issue, but many organizations have no system or process in place to address workplace psychological risks and stressors.

Employers’ legal obligations

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Project manager sentenced to 3.5-year jail term in Metron swing stage collapse

January 31, 2016 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Norm Keith, Christina Hall, and Shane Todd

“… [A] significant term of imprisonment is necessary to reflect the terrible consequences of the offences and to make it unequivocally clear that persons in positions of authority in potentially dangerous workplaces have a serious obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that those who arrive for work in the morning will make it safely back to their homes and families …” – R. v Vadim Kazenelson, 2016 ONSC 25 (CanLII), para. 45

These scathing words were written by Justice MacDonnell in the January 11, 2016, sentencing decision in R. v Vadim Kazenelson. In this decision, Kazenelson, a construction project manager, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for five convictions of criminal negligence relating to the collapse of a swing stage that led to the death of four construction workers in Ontario. Kazenelson had earlier been found guilty of committing these offenses following a trial. read more…

Managing the risks posed by distracted driving

December 20, 2015 - by: Carla Oliver 0 COMMENTS

by Carla Oliver

We’ve all seen it. Maybe when looking around while stuck in stop-and-go traffic on a highway. Maybe when noticing that a car in front of us doesn’t move when the traffic light turns green. It’s the distracted driver—texting away on his or her handheld device instead of paying attention to the traffic and road conditions.

Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous hazards on our roads today. In most provinces in Canada, fatalities caused by distracted driving have now exceeded the fatalities caused by both impaired driving and speeding. The Canadian Automobile Association has published statistics noting that a driver texting on a cell phone is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident or near accident than a nondistracted driver. read more…

Legal haze: accommodating employees who use medical marijuana

November 22, 2015 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 1 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

One of the hot topics discussed during the recent Canadian federal election was the possible legalization of marijuana. The Liberal Party, which won the election, took a position in favor of legalization as part of its platform.

As the country waits to see whether the new government will put forward legislation to legalize marijuana, Canadian employers continue to navigate the complicated issues that arise in their workplaces when their employees have medical prescriptions permitting their use of marijuana. read more…

BYOD: privacy issues for Canadian employers

November 15, 2015 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

by Lorene A. Novakowski

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, programs are increasingly popular in Canada, as they are in the United States. Under a BYOD program, employers require or expect employees to use their own mobile devices for business purposes. The practice raises privacy concerns as well as concerns about ownership of company data and the ability to retain company data when an employee departs.

In August 2015, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s federal government together with those of British Columbia and Alberta jointly issued a paper considering the privacy implications of BYOD programs. The paper also provides useful recommendations for employers. read more…

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