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Devil’s in the detail or employment contracts redux*: The twelve most common avoidable drafting errors

Employment contracts should be reviewed and revised on a periodic basis. Courts have routinely found that a contract will not be upheld or enforced unless it reflects the reality of the employment relationship.

 

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Work is work: Duration of dependent contractor status to be included in notice calculations

In the recent decision of Cormier v. St. Joseph Communications, the Court of Appeal upheld a motion judge’s finding that when calculating reasonable notice periods, an employee is entitled to include the duration of time they were an dependent contractor. This case highlights the risks posed by evolving employment relationships and the importance of drafting legally defensible termination clauses.

 

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Informal work should still be governed by “formal” employment contracts

There is certainly no “one size fits all” model when it comes to a written employment contract. The agreement doesn’t need to be long or complicated… or “formal”, but it is perhaps naïve in today’s work environment, including in the “gig economy”, to believe that the good natured feelings present at the beginning of the work relationship will always be there, or that you’ll part ways with a temporary or short-term employee on good terms in every instance; or to believe that everyone is in agreement as to just how “independent” the employee is.

 

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Common law reasonable notice of termination for independent contractors?

In the recent decision in Cormier v 1772887 Ontario Limited, an Ontario Superior Court judge stated that in some circumstances it would be reasonable to consider an employee’s years of service as an independent contractor in calculating his or her common law reasonable notice period.

 

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Supreme Court of Canada confirms that all workplace harassment is protected – even by third parties

In British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that human rights legislation is to be interpreted broadly and purposively and specifically found that the protection against workplace harassment is not limited to conduct perpetrated by an individual’s employer or co-worker. This decision will have significant implications for employers and employees alike.

 

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“Asking for trouble”: BC Human Rights Tribunal considers whether interview questions crossed the line

The interview process can be a legal minefield for employers. One false step, one inappropriate question can give rise to a human rights complaint alleging that the employer has discriminated against the prospective employee.

 

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Update on probationary clauses from Ontario Court of Appeal

Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed that the probationary clause, which provided, simply, “Probation…six months”, was enforceable, and that the employee was not entitled to anything more than the one week of pay in lieu of notice of dismissal pursuant to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”).

 

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Dishonesty in hiring process constitutes cause for dismissal

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has confirmed that, in certain scenarios, an employee’s dishonesty in the hiring process will constitute cause for dismissal. In this case, the plaintiff’s claim for wrongful termination was dismissed when the court found that the plaintiff’s omission on a security questionnaire amounted to dishonesty that went to the core of the employment relationship and was irreconcilable with sustained employment.

 

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Employers: Be careful of what you say about former employees to their new employers

Be careful of what you say about former employees to their new employers, warns Toronto employment lawyer, Jeff Dutton. As evidenced in Drouillard v. Cogeco Cable Inc., if a former employer suggests to another employer to terminate a certain employee, the former employer could be liable for damages to that employee by way of the tort of inducing breach of contract.

 

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The damages formerly known as Wallace – Are they still relevant?

It has been about eight years since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Honda Canada v Keays, which dramatically altered the law with respect to damages relating to bad faith conduct in the course of dismissal. Is the topic still relevant? A recent Ontario decision confirms that it is.

 

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Employee engagement in the modern workplace

The modern workplace requires innovation, agility and creativity when it comes to employee engagement, learning and development, how to accept and embrace the high turnover, gig economy, and how to stop generalizing generations. Few would disagree that an organization will only grow and thrive when it can figure out how to engage all individuals, not just certain demographics or generations.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Repeat violators from 2016 blitz; whether employer-employee relationship existed; and Labour force survey, April 2017.

 

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Former employee successfully sued for defamation for Facebook posts

In recent years, careless, or let’s say, less than sensible comments on social media have gotten countless employees in trouble with their boss. Employees who have used Facebook as a forum for posting threatening language and vile insults about a supervisor or offensive accusations about the company they work for have quickly been shown the door; and arbitrators and labour boards are often prepared to uphold these dismissals.

 

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Employee motivation is the key to higher retention rates

Employee morale and employee retention go hand in hand. If employees do not feel motivated at work, they will most likely start to look for a new job elsewhere. Tracking employee morale is essential for measuring retention rates within a company. The only precise way to measure employee morale is fairly easy: ask the employees directly.

 

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Probationary periods in Canada: Are they legal?

Probationary periods in employment… for something seeming so simple, they still cause a lot of confusion, and employees and employers alike are frequently mistaken about the legality of probationary periods and how they apply to the non-unionized worker. Employees who are terminated during probationary periods often accept their lot without ever receiving legal advice, while employers often terminate ‘probationary’ employees without providing any compensation, only to be surprised by a demand letter or civil action claiming wrongful dismissal. So where do these challenges come from? And how can they be remedied?

 

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