Focus Alerts

Our Focus Alerts provide up-to-the minute information about significant cases and other developments in labour and employment law.

The articles listed below are intended to provide readers with general information. They should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice or opinion.

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Bill 203 – Proposed new employee rights to information about compensation in the workplace

March 15, 2018

The Ontario government introduced Bill 203, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 (the Act) on March 6, 2018. If passed, the Act will come into effect on January 1, 2019 and will establish requirements relating to the disclosure of information about compensation (salaries and benefits) of employees and potential employees. In particular, the proposed legislation will: ban employers from seeking information about previous compensation from a job applicant, whether personally or through an agent. A job applicant may voluntarily disclose such information to an employer; require employers to include information about the expected compensation or range of expected compensation on publicly…

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Federal Budget 2018 – Key labour and employment-related provisions

March 5, 2018

The federal government tabled its 2018 Budget, entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class” in the House of Commons on February 27, 2018. We have summarized below those measures announced in the Budget that have labour and employment consequences. 1. Pay Equity – new proactive legislation The federal government has announced that it will take steps to reduce the gender-based wage gap in Canada. One of these steps will be to introduce new, proactive pay equity legislation that will apply to employers in federally-regulated sectors with more than 10 employees, including the federal public service. This legislation will be…

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Arbitrator reinstates nurse discharged for disparaging remarks

February 22, 2018

A nurse who was discharged from her employment for making disparaging comments about her employer has been reinstated. In North Bay Regional Health Centre v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 139 (February, 2018), the issue for the arbitrator was whether the grievor’s public comments violated the basic duty of loyalty that she owed to her employer. The comments in question were made at a union-sponsored provincial conference for nurses. The focus of the conference was violence in the workplace. During the conference, without advance notice, the grievor was asked to speak about workplace violence in the nursing profession. Some…

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Court of Appeal upholds termination clause

February 15, 2018

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision represents a promising shift in how courts will interpret termination clauses. In Nemeth v. Hatch Ltd. (January, 2018), the employer terminated a 19-year employee. The employer provided notice, severance, benefits, and pension contributions, all in accordance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), based on its interpretation of the following termination clause: The Company’s policy with respect to termination is that employment may be terminated by either party with notice in writing. The notice period shall amount to one week per year of service with a minimum of four weeks or the…

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The Top Employment Law Cases of 2017

February 8, 2018

It is undeniable that 2017 was an exciting and important year in employment law. The courts wrestled with complicated and difficult questions, including when can an employee be terminated for drug or alcohol use? And, can an employer require an employee to undergo an independent medical examination? There was a broad range of contentious issues such as these that came before the courts last year, with the end result being that a number of precedent-setting decisions were handed down in 2017. These cases were featured at Emond Harnden’s “Year End Update Breakfast”, hosted by Jacques Emond and Porter Heffernan on…

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Bill C-65 – Amendments to the Canada Labour Code dealing with harassment and violence and to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act dealing with occupational health and safety

February 5, 2018

In the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct, debate is slated to begin on the federal government’s Bill C-65, which, if passed, would toughen protections against workplace violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and violence, in federally-regulated workplaces. Bill C-65, tabled in November 2017, would amend the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) to overhaul and bolster the obligations on employers to prevent, investigate, and take action on occupational health and safety incidents. Bill C-65 would also ensure the application of those same provisions to parliamentary and political staff, governed by the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (“PESRA”). On January…

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Federal Court of Appeal rules attendance management policy not discriminatory – no adverse effect on employees

December 21, 2017

Attendance management policies (AMPs), and in particular what types of absences are included for the purposes of AMPs, are often the subject of contention between unions and employers. A recent decision of the Federal Court of Appeal held that absences due to disability and family status could be included in the calculations under an AMP provided that there was no adverse effect on the employees. In Attorney General of Canada v. Randi Bodnar et. al. (2017), the Federal Court of Appeal was asked to judicially review a decision of the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB). The PSLREB…

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Changes to EI benefits came into effect December 3, 2017

December 5, 2017

As part of the 2017 Budget, the federal government announced a number of significant changes to the insured benefits available under the Employment Insurance Act. These changes were set out in Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (“Bill C-44”), which received Royal Assent in June. The changes also create a new employment insurance benefit, referred to as the “Adult Caregiver Benefit”, and expand the availability of other insured benefits. In November, the federal government announced that the changes would come into effect on December 3, 2017 and published the amending regulation. The Canada Labour Code is also…

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Update on Bill 148 – The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

November 29, 2017

On July 20, 2017, we reported on the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, that were being proposed by the provincial government in Bill 148. Since then, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held public hearings on the Bill over the summer and an amended version of the bill was introduced and debated in the Legislature in September. The bill passed Second Reading on October 18, 2017. The Bill was then referred back to the Standing Committee for further public consultations. A further amended version of Bill 148 was referred back…

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Bill 148 – The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

July 20, 2017

Readers of Focus will recall that on May 31, 2017, prior to the introduction of Bill 148, we highlighted the key changes being proposed by the government of Ontario to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, in a Focus Alert entitled, “Ontario proposes major changes to employment and labour laws.” The following day, on June 1, 2017, Bill 148 – the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, was introduced in the legislature and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Following our Breakfast Seminar on June 28, 2017, in which our…

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