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…

Terminating for cause? How to limit your liability in Canada

January 15, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Karen Sargeant and Brian P. Smeenk

You’ve likely been in this situation before: One of your employees has engaged in questionable conduct. You’re in the process of investigating and are considering whether you should terminate the employee for cause. How do you go about it under Canadian employment laws?

Be careful

Terminating an employee’s employment for cause can be difficult and stressful for all concerned. It also can lead to increased damages and costs if you don’t do it right. That’s because Canadian courts will not award damages in lieu of notice of termination or severance pay when you have just cause for termination, but courts will often award increased damages when you make an allegation of misconduct that you can’t ultimately prove in court.

Here are some tips to help limit your company’s liability, while also reducing your stress: read more…

Categories: Termination

Class-Action Lawsuits Filed Against KMPG, CIBC, Scotiabank

January 08, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

By Trevor Lawson and Donovan Plomp
McCarthy Tetrault

Although large employment-related class-action lawsuits have become commonplace in the United States, until recently they were virtually unknown in Canada.

The relative peace enjoyed by Canadian employers on this front was shattered with a $651 million class-action lawsuit filed in June 2007 against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), followed quickly by a $20 million class-action against international finance and accounting giant KPMG LLP. And in early December, a $350 million-dollar suit was filed against a second major Canadian bank, Scotiabank.

These lawsuits seek damages for unpaid overtime in relation to thousands of current and former employees. If successful, they‘re expected to serve as a springboard for similar class-action lawsuits targeting large employers in Canada. read more…

Categories: Class Actions

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