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Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

EY’S guide to preparing 2013 personal tax returns

The following table provides an overview of the federal income tax changes for 2013. (In PDF)

Progressive discipline and performance management part of employment relationship

An Alberta arbitrator recently considered progressive discipline in a unionized environment where progressive discipline was specifically referenced in the collective agreement but where the employer decided not to apply it, terminating an employee instead. There were no compelling circumstances here to avoid using the progressive discipline clause and move straight to a termination.

Man ordered to surrender computer for metadata analysis

With “metadata” very much in the news—but perhaps poorly understood-Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that requires a man to hand over his personal computer for forensic analysis to support or dispute his workplace claim.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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One thought on “Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk
  • Following the publication of this blog post, we heard from Paula J. MacLean, CEO at MMCS Ltd and Silver Creek Press, who provided useful comments on the article “Progressive discipline and performance management part of employment relationship,” and with her permission, we decided to share with readers:

    I’m a regular reader of your posts and very much enjoy them. I am also a veteran HR consultant and co-author “From Hiring to Firing – A No-Nonsense Guide to Employee Performance Management. My co-author is Derek G. Redman, QC.

    I feel a couple things were missed in Christina Catenacci’s article on the recent Alberta arbitrator’s decision cited above. I would appreciate it if you would share these with her as well.

    First, most collective agreements make reference to progressive discipline but do not specify what the steps are. It is essential for employers to have written policy which is made clear and available to employees what the specific steps are. This should begin with several informal verbal feedback sessions, one or more verbal warnings (documented of course), two written warnings. It may or may not include suspensions as there are some good arguments that these are not “best practice” as they do not really intend or give an employee opportunity to improve.

    Secondly, best practice is still emerging when it comes to employee performance management. Repeatedly warning an employee (via verbal, written and suspensions) that they may be terminated MAY be considered constructive dismissal as the employee may be determined to be under duress at some point after being “badgered” by the employee and their job repeatedly threatened. “Further disciplinary action” is what must be referenced and as the process proceeds, “up to and including dismissal” should be added. I would not recommend to a client that they evoke the threat of dismissal at every opportunity.

    Thirdly, demotion (which is usually used punitively not correctively), may also be considered to be constructive dismissal. After the multiple steps suggested in the article (including progressively longer suspensions), it can be argued that the employer does not intend to help the employee improve his performance when demoting him. The employer is in fact hoping that the employee will resign and therefore demotes him in an attempt to resolve the issue through the back door.

    The biggest employer take away for me in this decision is that employers should be very specific in the written HR policy on progressive discipline. It is clear that one verbal and one written warning should never be enough to terminate with cause. This tells us what not to do, but clear policy tells us what we must do.

    All the best. Keep up the great work on the First Reference posts!