The law of employment, like every area, is always evolving. This often works to the consternation of both employers and employees, who would like to have a sense of certainty regarding their rights and obligations. While it may sound self-serving, the ongoing evolution of the law is another reason why it is important to work with an employment lawyer on a regular basis, rather than consult once and assume that the law is the same a decade later. The cases below also serve as reminders of the unpredictability of the law.
Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with an excessive termination for a safety violation; an harassment complaint based on the prohibited ground of gender and how human resource issues can be challenging for volunteer boards of not-for-profit.
Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with an employer’s miscalculation of the employee’s notice period; how an Alberta employer paid the price for failing to accommodate an employee’s disabilities; and Ontario’s new mandatory occupational health and safety training.
Employers will often seek to respond to downturns in their business by temporarily reducing head count, with the hope of having those employees return to work when the business improves. This is often referred to as a temporary lay off. Many employers inquire as to their right to temporarily lay off employees, generally in response to financial constraints of the business.
The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with the final updates on the 2014 compensation forecasts; the impact of a 2008 amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code resulting in the first award from an Ontario court for human rights damages in a wrongful dismissal case; and how a fight instigator was terminated and others involved let off.
The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with an updated version of the 2014 compensation forecast; how the principle of a pay cut without consideration prevails; and the termination of an impaired employee despite mitigating factors.
Just like pre-nuptial agreements, employers should contemplate termination when their employment contracts are drafted. A recent case illustrates why it is important to include a legally enforceable termination clause in an employment contract for all employees.
One of the questions at the forefront of many employers’ minds when they are considering terminating an employee without cause is how much it is going to cost. Unless there is a written employment contract with an express termination clause, an employer’s obligation is to provide reasonable notice of termination. Since there is no set formula for determining the appropriate length of the reasonable notice period, employers (or their legal counsel) must estimate what they think the notice period could be, having regard to the employee’s age, length of service, character of employment, the availability of similar employment, and the employee’s skills and training. Often, employers and their legal counsel will use a rough rule of thumb of one month notice per year of service (although the courts have denied that such a rule of thumb exists).
“We cannot continue to tolerate John’s misconduct, and we have decided to dismiss him for cause… once we get through the trade show next month.” Famous last words? Well, they will certainly weaken the position that just cause for dismissal existed in the circumstances. If an employer truly believes that they have just cause for dismissal, the employee should not be permitted to continue working, as that is entirely inconsistent with the notion that the employer could not continue to keep the employee on.
Recently, a Mr. Lube employee tweeted a request for some marijuana to help him get through his shift. This may have gone unnoticed by the media, but it came to the attention of the York Regional Police, who used their Twitter account to respond by asking, “Can we come too?” Presumably, his employers were asking a different question: “Can we fire him?”
Most of the time when employers look to terminate an employee they opt for pay in lieu of notice. Yet pay in lieu of notice can be costly, it can discourage mitigation and it may hurt productivity (if a suitable replacement has yet to be found). An often overlooked approach is providing working notice that satisfies both statutory and common law obligations.
The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with the need for explicit warnings before terminating for cause, proving reprisal in employment, and the notice period required when terminating an older employee.
Through mergers and expansion many Canadian companies now have substantial foreign operations. As a result, employees often find themselves, whether by choice or compulsion, transferred to a foreign country. When a dispute arises with the employer while the employee is working in that foreign country, the question arises as to which justice system will take jurisdiction over that dispute. Clearly, the obligation on the employee to sue in the foreign jurisdiction will increase both the cost and the inconvenience of enforcing her rights under her contract of employment, whether written or oral.