Time to Review Your Termination Clause – Even if You’re Not in Ontario

Recent legal cases have made many employment agreements null and void. It may be time for you to update yours and if you don’t have them in place, implement them now.

In order to help with this process Mainstay Insurance makes ConnectsUs HR available to all our clients at no charge.  They have made changes to their employment agreements in consideration of the Waksdale case.  If you’re already signed up, log in and find out more here. If you’re a Mainstay clients and not currently signed up, give me a call and we’ll get you set up.

If you’re looking for more on the case, see below


At this point, we’re all likely familiar with the Waksdale v Swegon North America Inc., 2020 ONCA 391 (Waksdale) case, in which the Ontario Court of Appeal held that termination clauses in Ontario employment agreements are read as a whole.

On January 14, the Supreme Court of Canada denied an application to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision.

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EMPLOYERS UNABLE TO MANDATE COVID SHOT

I’ve seen several articles on an employers ability to dictate being vaccinated. I thought it might be useful to share this to help employers understand they may be required to accommodate employees that do not wish to be vaccinated. This can create a conflict with the requirement to maintain a safe workplace. I don’t think we’ve heard the end of the the issue and personally can’t wait til it’s my turn to get the shot and travel again (once safe of course).


FEBRUARY 25, 2021

EMPLOYERS UNABLE TO MANDATE COVID SHOT

Until provincial governments or their public health officers specifically direct that individuals are vaccinated against COVID-19, there is no specific legal authority to compel an employee or individual to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, says Richard Press, a partner at DLA Piper. “In other words, you cannot require one of your employees to take the vaccine,” he said at its ‘Vaccines in the Workplace: Rights and Limitations on Requiring Vaccination.’ Absent legislation, employers are unlikely to be able to mandate vaccinations without facing a risk of either human rights or civil claims. It bears mentioning, he said, that across Canada, the health authorities have indicated there is no intention to legislate that employees must be vaccinated. However, not getting vaccinated could have consequences impacting the ability to work in certain settings. For example, employees who travel on business may need to show they have been vaccinated if they want to fly. Employers across Canada have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to ensure that the workplace is safe and most employers will be able to do so without mandating employees get vaccinated, he said. This can be done by allowing employees to continue to work remotely or modifying hours of work so the employees can work in an environment where physical distancing can be maintained. There is also an obligation to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 through adjusting health and safety plans, screening employees, requiring workers and visitors to wear appropriate PPEs. Vaccines should be considered as well, he said.

https://bpmmagazine.com/news/

Ontario Government Provides Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Workplace Safety

The Ontario Government updated the COVID-19 Response Framework in November 2020. It requires all businesses to prepare a plan describing the procedures that will be implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The plan must describe how the requirements will be implemented and must also be posted in the workplace and be available to any person for review, including, an inspector or compliance officer during an inspection of the workplace.

The article below provides more detail.


In the January 2021 What’s New newsletter, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (“MOLTSD”) modified and added the following guidance to support employers in developing their COVID-19 safety plan and to provide guidance on how to make their workplaces safer. The newsletter includes an updated safety plan guide, updated construction sector guidance, new guidance on meal and break periods, new guidance on self-isolation and return to work and new workplace screening tools.

https://www.blaney.com/articles/ontario-government-provides-updated-guidance-on-covid-19-workplace-safety

 

Can Canadian Employers Require Employees to Join a Group Benefit Plan?

If you work with Mainstay Insurance Brokerage Inc, then you know that we structure all benefit plans as “contractually mandatory” enrolment. This means all eligible full-time permanent employees MUST be enrolled on the benefit plan.  We do this to protect our client partners and put the risk onto insurers rather than vice-versa.

Even with this contractual format, employees sometimes ask to opt out during periods like maternity leave when they are asked to continue their contributions.  I have had great success in getting the industry to make changes to protect women returning from mat. leave (more on that HERE) if they chose to opt-out, but it is still from perfect, so suggest maintaining coverage every time. Failing to stay enrolled can leave both the employer and employee (and dependants) in a very risky position. Call us before considering this in any situation.

The article below, provides more info on these situations. Please note that w “waive” due to spousal coverage is NOT the same as someone opting out of the plan, and is allowed if there is spousal coverage in place.


Can Canadian Employers Require Employees to Join a Group Benefit Plan?

 

 

New Health Measures for Travellers Entering Canada – COVID-19

Most people are aware of the testing required to re-enter Canada when travelling abroad, but this is a good reminder for family, friends or employees. I now know of several people that went away to warmer climates and tested positive when it was time to return and as a result they are not allowed to fly home.  They don’t know how long it will be until they test negative. Until then they will have to remain quarantined in their hotel rooms. No beaches, no restaurants or pools.


On January 6, 2021, Canada’s Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, announced that a negative COVID-19 test will now be required in order to enter the country by aircraft. Here is more information…

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Tax Tip – If your employees share the health and dental premium

As employers prepare T4’s, they can make like a bit easier for staff.  By reporting the employees contributions to the health and dental premium in Box 85, you are helping staff make sure they get the medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) where available.

This avoids employees being audited for proof of contributions (and you having to write out letters for them).  You can find more on the CRA site below or ask your accountant.

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2020 HR Law Year in Review and Trends to Watch in 2021 – Jan. 19, 2021

Please see the webinar invite on a topic that may be of interest.

Laura Williams & Williams HR are a local (Markham) HR & Employment Law practice that does great educational events.

If you’re looking for help with employment issues, look no further. Lauras contact info can also be found on our website under NEED HELP

Registration info and details are below.


It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for employers in 2020, and it continues to do so into 2021. That said, there were also numerous, non-pandemic-related developments that occurred in 2020 that employers need to be aware of to avoid risks and proactively meet new and evolving HR law obligations.

Join the Williams HR Law team on January 19, 2021 at 1pm ET for a free 90-minute webinar on 2020 HR Law Year in Review and Trends to Watch in 2021. This session will:

  • Review the key developments in labour and employment law in 2020, both pandemic and non-pandemic-related;
  • Identify the trends that must be on employers’ radars for 2021; and
  • Explore actionable strategies for HR and business leaders to ensure legal compliance, minimize workplace exposures and make the changes necessary to adapt to the realities of the “new workplace”.

This interactive webinar will include Q&A time for attendees to pose questions which Williams HR Law’s lawyers will answer live during the webinar.

We look forward to you joining us!

REGISTER HERE

Date And Time

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST

Add to Calendar

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave extended to July 3, 2021

An update that applies to non-unionized provincially regulated employers in Ontario.

The IDEL has been extended once again.  This does provide some protection for employers that have had to remain closed or have extended lay-offs.

This piece from Williams HR Law provides more info


On December 17, 2020, the Ontario government announced that it will extend the current temporary rules relating to layoffs until July 3, 2021. This is a major development that will give many Ontario employers struggling to recover from the business impact of COVID-19 more time before recalling their employees to work.

As many employers know and as addressed in our blog, in late May the provincial government temporarily changed the rules relating to temporary layoffs under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). Generally, the ESA provides that employees can be temporarily laid off for up to 13 weeks in a 20-week period or 35 weeks in a 52-week period, depending on the circumstances, after which time their employment is deemed to be terminated if the layoff continues. However, the government effectively “paused” layoffs when it enacted the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave regulation (the “Regulation”) in late May. This new change will extend this “pause” until July 3, 2021.

The Regulation temporarily deems employees who had been laid off to instead be on a statutory Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”), rather than on layoff. This means that during the period when the Regulation is in effect, legally, employees who had been laid off since March are no longer considered to be on a temporary layoff under the ESA, and the usual rules pertaining to the duration of layoffs temporarily do not apply.

The temporary rules discussed above were scheduled to end on January 2, 2021, after which the usual rules related to layoff durations were scheduled to come into effect. However, if the government amends the Regulation as it has announced that it will, then the temporary rules will be extended until July 3, 2021.

For more information on what the planned extension would mean for employers, please read our blog regarding the previous extension of the temporary rules.

CRA Extends Work-From-Home Reimbursement To Home Office Equipment

More clarification on covering employee expenses while working from home.  Click on the title in the post at the bottom of this page to see the full article.


Who is eligible to deduct home office expenses?

An employee can deduct home office expenses if he or she is required to maintain a home office that was not reimbursed under an employment contract, and the home office must meet either of the following conditions:

  1. It must be the employee’s principle place of employment, or
  2. The space must be used by the employee exclusively for the purpose of earning income from employment and used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting customers or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the employment duties.

To deduct home office expenses, an employee would generally need

  1. a formal work-from-home written agreement under the employment contract, and
  2. Form 2200 – Declaration of Conditions of Employment, signed and prepared by the employer.

CRA Extends Work-From-Home Reimbursement to Home Office Equipment