Employment & Labour

Information on three important employment law developments

By Doug MacLeod

Every two weeks, I blog about a recent development in employment law or human rights law. Twenty-six blogs a year means there are a lot of new developments but I do not write about all of the changes in the employment law field each year.

I think employers currently need enhanced legal information on three human resource issues and so I am hosting a “learn by doing” seminar in October 2017.

This blog discusses these three areas.

Accommodating employees with mental disabilities

Most human rights complaints filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario involve a disability and the number of claims filed by employees with a mental disability is skyrocketing. Accommodating an employee with a mental disability is extremely complicated from a legal perspective. The costs of failing to accommodate can be staggering.

In our seminar, we will discuss the legal landscape surrounding accommodation requests. We will then break into groups to review a specific request for accommodation and discuss how to respond to the request.

What to do when the Ministry of Labour comes calling

On May 30, 2017, the Ontario government tabled proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act (the ESA) and also announced it intends to hire an additional 175 Ministry of Labour inspectors and that it intends to inspect 10 per cent of Ontario workplaces each year. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has been pro-actively targeting certain industries for inspections the last few years. We have written about the considerable fines that such an inspector can impose on an employer for violations of Ontario’s employment statutes.

These developments mean that the Ministry of Labour is no longer waiting to receive a complaint from an employee before inspecting a workplace for compliance with the ESA and the Occupational Health & Safety Act (the OHSA). In our experience, most employers are not in full compliance with these laws.

In our seminar, we will discuss an employer’s legal obligations under the ESA including the proposed changes to the ESA. Some of these changes are expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. We will then break into groups and review one specific employer and discuss what needs to be done to bring this employer into compliance.

Employment contracts

I think the best employment law investment is a well-drafted legally enforceable employment contract.

I have drafted employment contracts for most of my clients but these contracts need to be reviewed periodically for at least three reasons. Changes in employment laws like the ESA may require changes in your contract. Another reason is because the courts are constantly considering the enforceability of different clauses that are contained in an employment contract. For example, in the last two years, the courts have refused to enforce many termination clauses. Yet another reason is because an issue may have developed in your workplace that you can manage by adding a clause to your employment contract.

In our seminar, we will discuss the benefits of using an employment contract, the kinds of issues that can be addressed in a contract, and what kinds of clauses the courts are refusing to enforce. We will also break out into small groups to review contractual clauses and discuss whether the clause is likely to be enforced.

The seminar for GTA employers is taking place on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, and the seminar for Simcoe County employers is taking place on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Registration is limited to 30 for each seminar. The cost is $399 per person plus H.S.T.

For more information on this seminar, click here. To register, contact Judy Lam by calling (647) 204-8107 or e-mailing admin@macleodlawfirm.ca.

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