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

Don’t Let ‘Enhanced’ Severance Be a Surprise During Terminations

November 08, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

Since the concept of at-will employment isn’t recognized in Canada, U.S. employers need to understand how terminations are handled in their operations north of the border. Are you confident that your termination decisions are in line with Canadian law? And what about the “enhanced” severance known as “Wallace damages”? Are you clear on that concept?

Here’s a key difference between United States and Canadian employment laws: In Canada, unless termination is for just cause, employees are entitled to notice or payment in lieu of that notice. Also, unless an employment agreement expressly provides otherwise, the courts may allow a terminated employee notice or payment of an amount that the court considers reasonable.

This “reasonable” notice or pay is based on the employee’s age, position, length of service, and the availability of alternative employment. Such notice is usually more than the statutory minimum. Plus, the courts can award extra notice or pay if the employee has been treated unfairly during termination. So it’s important that you understand what you’re up against when letting employees go. read more…

Six Essential Tips for Running Background Checks in Canada

November 08, 2007 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant
former of McCarthy Tetrault

You have found the perfect employee. Your intuition tells you the candidate is exactly what you’ve been looking for. But will she really be the perfect employee? Reference and background checks are a good way to ensure that you have the right person for the job, but they’re not always straightforward.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you decide to do a reference or background check in Canada:

1. Ensure that you are not violating human rights legislation. When conducting background checks for education, previous employment, and criminal records, you must comply with the human rights legislation in the applicable province, territory, or federal jurisdiction. read more…

Categories: Employer's Tip

When Can You Terminate a Disabled Unionized Employee in Canada?

November 07, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

Canadian discrimination laws, like those in the United States, generally require employers to make accommodations for employees with disabilities. By law, employers must accommodate to the point of “undue hardship,” but undue hardship is difficult to define and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

What happens when employee rights come up against your rights as an employer under a union agreement to terminate an absent employee after a specified period? Just how far must you go in accommodating an employee who is considered totally disabled and unable to work for the foreseeable future? read more…

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

Handling Work Refusals

October 12, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

McCarthy Tetrault

Your employees in Canada have the right to refuse tasks that may endanger them or others. Health and safety laws spell out not only your obligations but also what your employees must do when refusing work, so it’s important for you to understand how to handle such situations. Here are some tips to help you deal with work refusals:

read more…

Categories: Employer's Tip

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

Collective Bargaining – Now It’s Constitutionally Protected

October 11, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Donovan Plomp
McCarthy Tetrault

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has decided collective bargaining is a right protected in the national constitution.

The court’s extension of “freedom of association” under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include a right to collective bargaining is a reversal of previous Supreme Court decisions. read more…

Canada’s Top Court Signals Tougher Days Ahead on Accessibility

October 11, 2007 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

by Tara McPhail
McCarthy Tetrault

Canadian human rights laws require employers to accommodate employees and customers with disabilities up to a point. What point? The point at which the accommodation would constitute “undue hardship” on the employer. But what makes an undue hardship? A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision appears to set a high threshold for the undue hardship defense.

The court upheld a federal regulatory order forcing Canada’s primary passenger railway operator, VIA Rail, to spend tens of millions of dollars to provide better access to passengers in wheelchairs.

The decision (Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. VIA Rail Canada Inc.) has a major impact on transport services including airlines and interprovincial bus companies. More broadly, the decision also influences the way Canadian courts and human rights tribunals are going to approach the issue of how far employers must go to accommodate employees and customers with disabilities. read more…

Welcome to Northern Exposure

October 06, 2007 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

Welcome to the introductory issue of Northern Exposure. This new e-zine and blog highlights important developments in Canadian labor and employment law and will be of special interest to companies with operations in Canada.

In addition to news articles, the blog and e-zine will include practical Employer’s Tips and Q&As to help you better understand Canadian employment law.

read more…

Categories: Commentary

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