Group Terminations in Canada: What Employers Need to Know

July 27, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Katie Clayton and Farrah Sunderani

In today’s economy it’s become commonplace for employers to terminate large numbers of employees at one time. Depending on the number of employees being terminated, an employer may fall under federal or provincial group termination provisions designed to protect employees and the local economy from an influx of terminated individuals re-entering the workforce. As such, it’s important employers be aware of the obligations they are under in order to protect themselves against, at times, hefty consequences.

Federal legislation
Employers operating in federally regulated industries are subject to the Canada Labour Code, which contains specific requirements in the event of a group termination in Division IX, Part III and the associated regulations. These define a group termination as a termination of 50 or more employees in the same establishment within a four- week period. In such a case, the employer must provide the Minister of Labour with 16 weeks’ notice in writing of the pending terminations under Section 212. The notice of group terminations is separate and apart from the notice entitlement for each individual employee. The group termination notice itself must contain the following information: read more…

Working in Canada without a Work Permit: Common Exemptions

July 21, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

by Ingrid Anton and Gilda Villaran

In order to work in Canada, the general rule requires a foreign worker to obtain a work permit. There are certain exceptions to this rule. We present below the most common ones. Although some of the activities described below are normally considered “work” for immigration purposes, Canada’s immigration regulations allow foreigners carrying out these activities to enter the country as business visitors.

After-sales services
A U.S. citizen may enter Canada to perform/supervise installation, repair, or servicing of commercial/industrial equipment, machinery, or software. These goods must have been manufactured outside of Canada and sold or leased to a Canadian company by the U.S. citizen’s U.S. employer. This work permit exemption also applies if the employee will provide training to Canadian workers in connection with these services (see below, trainers). “Installation” means only setting up or testing. It doesn’t include hands-on installation such as would be performed by an electrician or pipe-fitter, for example.

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Canadian Employers May Be Obligated to Provide References

July 13, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Stephen Acker and Christopher Ferguson

Letters of reference are understandably important to employees. For many employees, they are considered essential rather than a hopeful add-on to an application. A glowing letter of reference from a trusted source can sometimes tip the balance and lead to a hire. A bad or withheld letter, or one that raises questions, can have the opposite effect and even dog a job-seeker for years. A worthwhile recommendation, then, can be among the most valuable parting gifts an employer can give an employee.

Except, of course, that a letter of reference is often no gift. In many circumstances, it is an employee’s common law right.

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Categories: Workplace Policies

Ontario Court Rules Class Action Not Allowed for Overtime Claim

July 07, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Alix Herber and Ian Campbell

One of the hottest issues in Canadian employment law in the past two years has been overtime class-action claims. As we outlined in our October 7, 2008, entry, 2007 saw three overtime class-action lawsuits

  • a $651 million class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), followed quickly by a $20 million class action against KPMG,
  • and then a $350 million class action against a second major Canadian Bank, Scotiabank. Further class actions were filed in 2008 – against CN Railway in March 2008 for $250 million,
  • and another against CIBC (this time by the investment bankers and analysts) in October 2008 for $360 million.

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Limits Placed on Videotaping Picket Line Activities

June 30, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

In October and November 2006, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 were on strike and picketing at Palace Casino, located at one of Canada’s largest malls — West Edmonton Mall. Striking union members pointed a video camera at the entrance of the casino, recording the image of everyone who crossed the picket line to enter the facility.

They also took still photographs of some individuals who were crossing the picket line.  Signs placed in the area suggested that the images of persons crossing the picket line would be placed on a “CasinoScabs” website and that by crossing the picket line individuals were providing their consent for this purpose. The union also placed some of the pictures on posters and in union newsletters.

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Another Strike Against Wal-Mart in Quebec: Arbitrator Imposes Collective Agreement

June 23, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

For the last five years, two Wal-Mart big-box stores in Quebec have been the subject of certification applications filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The first store to be unionized was located in the town of Jonquière. Wal-Mart decided to close down that operation in 2005 immediately after the union applied for binding arbitration to settle the terms of the collective agreement.

The Quebec Labor Code provides that an arbitrator designated by the Minister of Labor can impose the content of a first collective agreement. This may be done when the parties are unable to reach an agreement, after negotiation and government-assisted mediation/conciliation. In imposing an agreement, the arbitrator must decide the terms “according to equity and good conscience.” The arbitrator may also take into account the conditions of employment that prevail in similar businesses.

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Beware the Unpaid Intern in Canada

June 15, 2009 - by: Sara Parchello 3 COMMENTS

One of the unfortunate outcomes of the current economic climate is that there are fewer jobs to go around for students. Summer and graduating students who have relied on summer jobs for experience and training are finding few opportunities out there.

To solve this problem, many students and graduates are reaching out to companies to offer their services on a gratuitous basis as unpaid “interns.” The mutual benefit seems obvious — especially if an unpaid internship blossoms into a full-time paying job.

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Termination Clauses in Canadian Employment Contracts

June 09, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Katie Clayton and Farrah Sunderani

If you include a termination benefit in a Canadian employment agreement, it is important to be precise. As discussed in previous Northern Exposure entries, employers in Canada must provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when terminating an employee without cause. This minimum requirement is legislated in employment laws across the country. But Canadian courts often award higher amounts, as a result of more generous judicial precedents.

Canadian courts have frequently visited the topic of an employer’s ability to limit the amount of notice they must provide to that required by statute. Can you prevent a court from awarding more? You can’t pay less than the statutory amount. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that any contract clause that purports to provide less is void and unenforceable. It is, however, possible to limit the notice of termination to the statutory minimum.

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Workers’ Compensation Claim for Mental Stress Allowed

June 02, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Derek Knoechel and Lorene Novakowski

Canadian provinces have workers’ compensation legislation that provides a no-fault system of compensation for injuries suffered on the job. The system covers lost wages, medical aid, and rehabilitation for the injured worker and generally removes the injured worker’s ability to sue the employer. The workers’ compensation system is funded by employer premiums that are set and determined primarily by the employer’s industry and by the individual employer’s experience in terms of accidents and claims.

In recent years, workers have claimed workers’ compensation benefits for workplace stress. The various provincial boards have been reluctant to approve stress claims except in limited circumstances. But maybe not for long. In a recent decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal broadened the approach to mental stress claims.

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Reducing Pension Costs in Canada During Hard Times

May 26, 2009 - by: Lyne Duhaime 2 COMMENTS

The recent decline in financial markets has caused Canadian pension plans to become significantly underfunded. For instance, in Québec close to 97 percent of all defined benefit pension plans are currently underfunded.

As this continues, many employers may look for ways to reduce pension costs or at least offset increases of those costs. Such losses can have a significant impact on a company’s ability to survive the current economic downturn.

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