Health and Safety Legislative and Regulatory Responses

March 04, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

by Daniel Pugen
McCarthy Tetrault

Workplace violence has become a hot topic among labor, employment, and health and safety regulators in Canada. Of course, workplace violence is hardly a new phenomenon. Certain workers like police officers have an inherent risk of workplace violence. Also, put enough people in an enclosed area under stressful conditions (i.e., the typical office scenario) and some form of conflict is bound to result.

Whether it’s actual physical aggression or other forms of workplace violence like threats or harassment, some research suggests that such conduct is on the rise.

read more…

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).

read more…

Categories: Human Rights / Privacy / Q&A

Releases You Can Rely On

February 19, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Donovan Plomp
McCarthy Tetrault

Does your Canadian business ask employees to sign releases in exchange for their severance packages? Imagine if an employee took the severance package, signed the release, then sued your company anyway.

That’s exactly what Douglas L. Titus did to his former employer — and he won at the trial level. Thankfully for employers, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned this decision.

read more…

Categories: Termination

Effective and Streamlined Bargaining Preparation

February 12, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Daniel Pugen
McCarthy Tetrault

It’s been a cold, wintry start to 2008 (at least in Canada). The cobwebs from New Year’s Eve have passed and New Years’ resolutions already have been broken. As February began, the groundhog indicated six more weeks of winter and Ontario employees were counting down the days until Family Day (February 18, 2008), Ontario’s new statutory holiday.

People are back from vacation and work is in full swing. Phones are ringing, faxes are churning, e-mails are popping up on computer screens. In the midst of the hum of the office as you think of the priorities for the year ahead, it occurs to you that your current collective agreement is set to expire in 2008.

read more…

Maternity Benefits – No Legal Right for Adoptive Mothers

February 12, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Kate McNeill
McCarthy Tetrault

Across Canada, employment standards laws provide for job-protected maternity leave for pregnant employees and parental leave for parents generally. In addition, the federal government provides financial benefits during these leaves through its Employment Insurance Act (EIA).

The Supreme Court of Canada recently declined to review an appeal of a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal that stated that the right to maternity leave and employment insurance benefits is restricted to biological mothers and excludes adoptive mothers.

read more…

Law Protects Workers’ Wages When Employer Is Insolvent

February 05, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

by Kate McNeill of McCarthy Tetrault
and Brian P. Smeenk formerly with McCarthy Tetrault

Canada’s federal parliament has passed a law to protect workers when their employers become insolvent

read more…

How Will Your Business Respond to Family Day?

January 29, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk, formerly with McCarthy Tetrault

A new statutory holiday, Family Day, has been declared in the province of Ontario. It will be celebrated on February 18. In subsequent years, it will fall on the third Monday of each February.

Employers should begin considering how their organization will respond. In particular, employers should begin reviewing existing employment contracts and collective agreements to determine whether they will treat Family Day as an additional holiday for employees.

Many employers already provide employees with more contractual public holiday rights and benefits than required by the minimum employment standards laws of Ontario – the Employment Standards Act (ESA). For example, a number of employment contracts and collective agreements provide “floater days” in addition to the original eight statutory holidays.

Employers should be aware that under the ESA, if the provisions of an employment contract or collective agreement provide a “greater right or benefit” than those provided by the ESA for the same subject matter, the contractual provisions apply and the ESA doesn’t apply. read more…

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…

Big Brother Is Here: Ontario’s Integrated Approach to Enforcement

January 22, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Daniel Pugen
McCarthy Tetrault

Ontario’s new Regulatory Modernization Act, 2007 may sound like a bland piece of regulatory updating, but it actually contains significant changes to regulatory enforcement processes, including those in the employment field.

Passed by the Ontario legislature on May 17, 2007, and going into effect on January 17, 2008, this law will have real consequences for companies operating in Ontario.

The new law significantly affects the scope of government workplace investigations. It also affects the penalties and sentences for noncompliant employers by broadening the powers of all of the Ontario government’s enforcement branches, including the Ministry of Labour.

Most importantly, the Act permits government departments, or “ministries,” to:

  • Share information collected and observations and findings made in the course of their investigations;
  • Consider an employer’s compliance record including previous convictions and penalties imposed under other legislation when determining appropriate sentences for legislative violations; and
  • Make available to the public the information collected in the course of workplace investigations, including the employer’s compliance record. read more…

Categories: Employment Regulation

Ruling Helps Alberta Employers Defend Preemployment Testing Challenges

January 22, 2008 - by: Katie Clayton 2 COMMENTS

by Michael Ford
McCarthy Tetrault

A long-awaited ruling of the Alberta Court of Appeal clears up some questions related to preemployment drug and alcohol testing related to safety-sensitive positions.

The case – Chiasson v. Kellogg Brown & Root issued December 28, 2007 – involved an admitted casual user of marijuana being terminated from his employment after failing a preemployment drug and alcohol test.

Chiasson was hired by KBR on the condition that he pass a drug and alcohol test. After failing the test, he admitted smoking marijuana five days before he was tested. He was then fired.
read more…

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