Ontario’s ban on hand-held devices while driving will take effect on October 26, 2009. It will be illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. There will be a three month transition period for enforcement where the focus will be on educating drivers; police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010.
We’ve been hearing lately that in the United States employers are being held liable to employees for overtime compensation for using PDAs/BlackBerrys after hours for work and for checking work-related emails. We’ve been made aware of four such class action suits by employees that allege, among other claims, that the company provides them with BlackBerrys or other smart devices, and that they are required to review and respond to work-related emails and text messages at all hours of the day, amounting to 10 to 15 overtime hours per week.
It’s a pleasure to welcome Andrew Taillon, a lawyer at Cox & Palmer, as our first guest blogger. He will be blogging about human resources, employment and labour related issues taking place in the Atlantic provinces.
On November 6, 2009, amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) will come into force. Temporary help agencies will have new responsibilities, and temporary help assignment employees will have new rights. The new requirements only cover assignment employees working for agencies but not employees who work for the agency and are not sent out on assignments with clients.
I was recently made aware that the Ontario and Manitoba Trucking Associations are trying to convince regulators in their respective provinces to exempt CB radios and certain communication devices used specifically by truck drivers for dispatch and business-related purposes from the provincial bans on cellphone use and texting while driving that are to come into force this fall.
Unfortunately, Bill 168 as it stands is vague with regard to what employers must actually do in cases where domestic violence enters the workplace. Legal authorities seem to have little direction to offer on the matter as well.
All workplaces house risks to employees’ health and safety in varying degrees: factories have machinery that can cause serious injuries; warehouses store loads and move them around with cumbersome vehicles, both of which have the potential to injure; even office environments are far from risk-free, although the threats tend to be less visible, like poor indoor air quality and ergonomic arrangements. However, only in the last decade or so has the issue of violence in the workplace gained wide recognition—and this is an issue that can affect all workplaces indiscriminately.
An increasing number of studies show that driving while talking on a cellphone can be dangerously distracting. Some studies state that talking on a cellphone while driving makes a person four times more likely to be in a crash. This is a much higher risk than most other distracting activities. As a result, the governments of Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia have announced that they will draft legislation this fall to ban the use of hand-held electronic devices (such as cellphones) to talk or text while driving a vehicle; joining the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, who have banned or are in the process of banning the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving this fall.
With a new wave of swine flu (H1N1) predicted to hit by mid-October 2009, the Public Health Agency of Canada in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments have launched a new website FightFlu.ca at www.fightflu.ca. It is a one-stop access to online information and resources about H1N1 flu virus. In addition, the agency has awarded a contract worth $926,600 under the Pandemic Preparedness Response Fund to the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) to develop tools and strategies that small and medium sized businesses can use to take action to ensure they recognize and deal with the challenges brought on by the virus, and develop plans to deal with increased employee absenteeism and disruptions in their operations.