Canadian Employer Avoids Prior Severance Promises

December 09, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

During these tough economic times, employers are often looking to increase flexibility. Several of our recent blog entries have discussed ways in which employers can do so – furloughs, work-sharing programs, changing employment contracts, and adjusting the size of the workforce. Recently, the British Columbia Court of Appeal granted Raytheon Canada some flexibility when it said that Raytheon did not have to provide severance pay in accordance with prior promises. (Marija Ciric v Raytheon Canada Limited)

Severance pay promises
In January 2004, Raytheon began downsizing its Richmond, British Columbia, facility. Layoffs had been made, more were expected and were subsequently made, and Raytheon was anxious to retain key employees. In order to do so, Raytheon told employees that were not being laid off that the practice of paying severance pay based on one month’s salary for each year of service, with an upward adjustment for age and level, would continue to apply to employees who were laid off from the Richmond facility in the future.

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Beware Liability When Workers Talk on Phone While Driving

August 05, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 1 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant
former of McCarthy Tetrault

We have all heard the statistics (and it’s no surprise!) — driving while talking on a cell phone increases the likelihood of a car accident even if you use a “hands-free” set. At the same time, your employees have cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerries(R) and other personal data assistants (PDAs), which you know they use while commuting to and from work or while out and about on business. What’s worse, they may use these devices for company business, such as participating in conference calls or calling customers while driving.

Employers beware — you face significant risks under Canadian law if you allow this behavior to continue.

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Should Canadian Employers Give Employment References?

July 15, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

By Tina Giesbrecht and Lana Jackson
McCarthy Tetrault

Employers often ask whether they should give employment references to employees and former employees. This decision can be a difficult one with possible negative consequences for either course of action. Whatever decision is made, it’s important to consistently apply one policy regarding reference letters.

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Categories: Employer's Tip / Q&A

Avoiding Hiring Pitfalls in Canada

April 22, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Kate McNeill
McCarthy Tetrault

We all know that once you hire an employee, you have certain legal obligations to that employee. But what about before you even hire someone?

In Canada, job applicants are entitled to certain human rights and common law protections that employers must be aware of in their hiring practices. In this Q&A, we provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about hiring practices in the Canadian marketplace.

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What to Do When U.S. National Security, Canadian Employment Laws Clash

February 26, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Rachel Ravary
McCarthy Tetrault

No one can deny that security concerns have taken on monumental proportions in the post-9/11 era. Buzzwords like national security, homeland security, border security, supply chain security, perimeter security, and security threats have become part of our daily vocabulary. National security is also high on the list of priorities of our respective lawmakers.

In the past several years, the U.S. State Department has become increasingly strict in its enforcement of export and transportation controls, most importantly the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

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Categories: Human Rights / Privacy / Q&A

Compassionate Care Benefits for Canadian Employees

January 29, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Donovan Plomp
McCarthy Tetrault

In Canada, employees are entitled to certain government-provided benefits under the federal Employment Insurance Act, including “compassionate care benefits.”

The introduction of these benefits in January 2004 prompted almost all provinces and territories to introduce job-protected compassionate care leave in their respective minimum employment standards laws.

Employers in Canada must grant this leave in accordance with applicable provincial or federal law. In this Q&A, we provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about compassionate care leave and benefits.

Q. What are “compassionate care benefits”?

A. Money paid under the Employment Insurance Act to qualifying employees. Employees may qualify if absent from work to provide care or support to a gravely ill family member who is at risk of dying within 26 weeks. Unemployed persons receiving other employment insurance benefits can also ask for these types of benefits.

Q. When are compassionate care benefits available? read more…

Must-Know Facts about Employment Contracts in Canada

December 04, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

Q. When does an employer have an employment contract with its employees?

A. Every employer in Canada has an employment contract, whether written or unwritten, with each of its nonunion employees. Sometimes, only some of the terms are in writing. When necessary, courts will imply reasonable terms in the absence of any express agreement on the issue. read more…

Categories: Employment Contracts / Q&A

Blogs and Why You Should Care

November 07, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

A “blog,” short for web log, is akin to an online diary or an electronic discussion board that often includes a mix of commentary and opinions from visitors to the website. More and more employers are dealing with employees who may be blogging about their work. Here are some questions you should consider.

Q. Why should I care about blogs?
A. The number of blogs is rapidly increasing. In its April 2007 “State of the Blogosphere” report, Technorati stated that at least 120,000 new blogs are created worldwide each day. And many employers are finding themselves the subject of blogs. read more…

Categories: Q&A

Party Time

October 12, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

Q. When a company holds a social outing for employees and alcohol is served, what are the legal risks? How can potential liability be minimized?

A. Parties and other social events provide employers with an opportunity to reward employees and let them interact with coworkers outside of the office. Unfortunately, they also create some risk because you could be liable for the actions of your employees and guests who, for example, drink too much, harass guests or other employees, and become a danger to themselves and others. What can you do to minimize the risk? Here are some tips: read more…

Categories: Q&A