Posts tagged: employee rights

Employment Standards Alert: The Cost of Doing Business in Ontario Just Went Up

By , November 23, 2017 11:54 am

The Ontario government’s much publicized overhaul to the province’s employment standards legislation will take effect as early as December 3, 2017.

For the most part, vulnerable employees and employees in precarious employment will benefit from these legislative changes.

As far as employers are concerned, these changes will result in higher payroll costs and a more regulated workplace.

I believe most employers will need to change existing employment practices and policies to comply with this new law.

This blog summarizes a few of the changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

Increased Payroll Costs

The minimum wage increases from $11.60 to $14.00 as of January 1, 2018 and to $15.00 on January 1, 2019 – about a 30% increase.

Employees are entitled to an extra week of paid vacation after 5 years employment.

For the first time, employees are entitled to paid leaves of absence.

The cost of replacing an employee who is on a leave or is unable to work will in many cases be going up. It will not matter whether you hire someone on your own or you use a temporary help agency unless your organization can satisfy a statutory exemption.

Wages for part-time workers are also going up unless an employer can satisfy a statutory exemption.

The cost of cancelling a shift on less than 48 hours’ notice, or sending a person home early if the person is scheduled to work 3 or more hours is also increasing.

Restrictions on an Employer’s Traditional Management Rights

New limits on scheduling work have been introduced which allow employees to refuse changed schedules.

Employees have the right to take more time off work. In particular, employees are entitled to longer and new leaves of absences. For example, combined pregnancy and parental leave is being increased from 12 months to 18 months, the family medical leave is being increased from 8 weeks to 28 weeks, the critically ill child care leave has been expanded and renamed the critical illness leave and now encompasses not only children of the employee but minor and adult family members as well, and employees are now entitled to take up to 17 weeks of domestic assault leave.

Employers can no longer request a doctor’s note if a person asks for a personal emergency leave day, including a sick day.

How to Comply with the Changes to the Employment Standards Act

To help employers understand the implications of these legislative changes on their workplaces the MacLeod Law Firm has developed a compliance service. It involves reviewing your organization’s current employment practices and policies and recommending changes that are needed to bring them into compliance with the changed employment standards legislation.

For more information on this service, please contact Nadia Halum at 647-985-9894 or at [email protected]. Additional compliance services are found here.

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

Human Rights Update: Damage Awards for Sexual Harassment Continue to Rise

By , July 13, 2015 2:26 pm

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about a vulnerable, low paid employee who obtained $ 150 000 from her former employer by filing a complaint under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

This week, I am writing about a vulnerable, low paid employee who obtained $ 300 000 from her former employer using Ontario’s court system.

Short service employee earning $ 28 000 a year is awarded $ 300 000 in damages

The Facts

In Silvera v. Olympia Jewellery Corp., a 47 year old administrative employee who earned $ 28 000 a year was sexually harassed/assaulted at work on three occasions. Then she was fired after less than 2 years service because she was unable to work due to pain caused by dental surgery.

As far as the sexual assault is concerned, the women’s supervisor grabbed her breasts on one occasion, he grabbed her buttocks on another occasion, and he tried to grab her breasts on the third occasion. The supervisor knew the employee had been sexually abused by a step-father when she was a child.

She commenced an action on Ontario’s Superior Court.

The Damage Award

An Ontario trial judge awarded the employee the following damages for sexual assault and battery:

$ 90 000 for general and punitive damages

$ 43 000 for future therapy care

$ 34 000 for future lost income

The judge also awarded her the following damages for wrongful termination:

$ 7 500 for pay in lieu of reasonable notice

$ 15 000 for aggravated damages

$ 10 000 for punitive damages

$ 58 000 for lost income

Furthermore, the judge awarded the employee $ 30 000 for breach of the Human Rights Code. To my knowledge, this is the highest general damage award that a judge has ordered for a violation of the Code. The judge did not however provide any analysis or refer to any other cases when assessing these damages.

The judge also ordered the employer to pay the employee’s daughter $ 15 000 for loss of care, guidance and companionship under the Family Law Act. To my knowledge, this is the first time a judge has ordered these kind of damages in a wrongful dismissal case.

Will this case be Appealed?

It will be interesting to see if this case is appealed. In this regard, it appears that the trial judge in this case may not have exercised the kind of restraint that the Supreme Court of Canada urged in the 2008 Honda Canada Inc. vs. Keays decision where trial judges were cautioned: “The Court must avoid the pitfall of double‑compensation or double‑punishment that has been exemplified by this case.” If this case is not appealed, I expect employee lawyers will be claiming additional damages in these kinds of cases in the future.

Lesson to be learned:

Damages for sexual harassment are starting to increase significantly. Every employer should therefore have a written no discrimination policy with a complaint procedure.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on human rights issues. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

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