First Reference company logo

First Reference Talks

News and Discussions on Payroll, HR & Employment Law

decorative image

policy and procedures

No obligation to let employee smoke marijuana at work as a form of accommodation

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, in French v Selkin Logging, found that an employer did not discriminate based on the ground of physical disability by refusing to allow the employee from smoking marijuana at work. The company’s zero-tolerance policy for drugs constituted a bona fide occupational requirement (BFOR).


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with employment standards proactive inspections; disclosure under privacy law; and severance entitlements.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do you need a social media policy?

It is understandably frustrating for employers and human resources managers to try keep up with social media trends. It seems that as soon as employers (or anyone over the age of 25) has figured out the latest social media tool, the masses have moved on to the next one. Likewise it is almost impossible to amend or adapt a “social media” policy with each shift in trend.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ontario Human Rights Commission to update its policy on creed and religious observances


The Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a release recently to notify the public about an upcoming update to its policy on creed and accommodation of religious observances. The policy was created 15 years ago and is now due to be reviewed and amended to reflect the current demographics in Ontario. Public feedback is being collected to inform the new policy – yes, this means you.


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to avoid an overtime claim

So you have an employee who has been working with you for five years, and now you have to terminate the employee because it is just not working out. When parting ways, the employee insists that you should have been paying him overtime pay for all the years he has worked for you – and he wants to claim this alleged outstanding overtime pay, or he will be making a claim for unpaid wages with the Employment Standards Branch for unpaid overtime. How can employers avoid this and other types of overtime claim?


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Headphones are the new office walls and bring about many challenges

I don't always wear headphones at work, but when I do, I leave them in long after the music or video has ended

Open-plan offices were first introduced in the 1950s and quickly became a popular way of arranging workspaces. Businesses have implemented the open-plan office to save space and money, to foster communication and collaboration, to allow for creative thinking among workers, and for some, to remove the imposed hierarchy (status implications of office type, e.g., the corner office) created by closed office spaces. However, it turns out that sometimes an open plan office means too much communication and a loss of privacy, leading to undesirable effects.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook and employees’ rights

You’ve probably heard by now that some employers in the United States have come up with the idea of asking prospective employees for their Facebook passwords so they can take a closer look at what these candidates are all about. Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it fair?


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tips to prevent the spread of colds and flu in the workplace

The cold and flu season is underway and typically runs from November to April each year. The often close quarters of workplaces allow employees to easily spread cold and flu germs. These germs are transferred from person to person and surface to surface indoors. Employers must take preventive measures to fight these germs around your workplace, keep your employees safe and maintain productivity throughout the peak cold and flu season.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When aggression and the workplace collide

Aggression sometimes occurs in the workplace. That is a fact! And when conflicts are left unresolved, employers have employees resigning or taking tremendous amounts of sick leave to deal with these issues, or the aggression crosses the line into assault or battery, or you receive a human rights or occupational health and safety complaint.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New policy regarding sexual and gender-based harassment

On March 8, 2011, just in time for International Women’s Day, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a new policy regarding sexual and gender-based harassment. It has been noted that although great strides have been made for women in the past hundred years, there is still a long way to go to eliminate the barriers women face. The new policy deals mainly with sexual harassment in employment, housing and education.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas greetings in the workplace may be offensive

You can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore—they have taken all the fun out of coming to work. What about my human rights? Wow! Where did all this negativity come from? I decided to do some research and look for the origins of this Christmas bashing and I turned up some interesting cases.


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Slaw: Human rights tribunal defends family values: work-life balance ruling

While not every childcare need gives rise to an employer obligation to accommodate, the employee argued that her complicated and unpredictable schedule made it impossible to care for her children. Moreover, she knew that…


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Addiction to Farmville can get you fired

I never understood the fascination to this Facebook application… a game called Farmville. Certain members of my family play it and some of my co-workers indulge in it. Most of the Facebook status updates or newsfeeds I see over my network involve someone looking for something or finding something in Farmville, and would like to share it with me. For example, “Christina was farming when she found a Wandering Stallion! Christina wants her friends to help the Wandering Stallion by giving him shelter for the night“.


, , , , , , , ,

Addressing domestic violence in the workplace – some insights


The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act violence and harassment prevention provisions (Bill 168) require an employer to take all reasonable precautions in the circumstances for the protection of all employees if a domestic violence situation is likely to expose a worker to physical injury in the workplace and the employer becomes aware or ought reasonably to be aware of the situation.

But what does that imply? The law states the requirement but provides little guidance on what employers need to do to prevent domestic violence from spilling into the workplace. In addition, many employers are not comfortable addressing a situation of such a personal nature. It is not an easy task to complete and might never be.


, , , , , , , , ,