Photo of Ajanthana Anandarajah

Ajanthana Anandarajah advises employers in a wide range of labour and employment law matters, providing practical legal and business advice to both domestic and international private and public sector clients. Ajanthana has appeared before administrative tribunals and the Ontario Court of Justice in Ontario. She joined the Firm in 2019, after completing her summer and articling term with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Labour.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28 (“Fraser“) raises fundamental questions about how allegations of discrimination under human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter“) will be adjudicated in the future. At a minimum, employers should carefully review distinctions drawn under workplace policies, practices, and benefits plans—particularly distinctions between full-time employees, part-time employees, and employees on a leave of absence—to ensure those distinctions do not disproportionally impact women with children.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Revisits Workplace Discrimination in the Context of Pension Service Buy-Back

At common law, employers have a right to terminate an employment relationship, subject to reasonable notice of termination. When an employer breaches this implied duty, employees are entitled damages for wrongful dismissal, which presumptively include damages for lost incentive compensation unless an employer unequivocally ousts that right in an employment agreement or incentive plan. In Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that absent “absolutely clear and unambiguous” language in the employment agreement or the incentive plan restricting such entitlement, incentive compensation is considered part of the damages owed in lieu of common law reasonable notice.
Continue Reading SCC Reminds Employers of the Costly Implications of Imprecise Language in Incentive Compensation Plans

On July 17, 2020, the federal government announced that it would extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (“CEWS”) until December of 2020, and proposed several significant changes that will, among other things, allow more employers to access subsidies.

On July 20, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, to extend and adapt the CEWS program. On July 21, 2020, Bill C-20 received its third reading, and is expected to receive royal assent very soon. If passed, Bill C-20 will retroactively impact the CEWS program, generally commencing with the fifth qualifying period which commenced on July 5, 2020 (subject to a “safe harbour” discussed below).
Continue Reading Federal Government Extends & Amends Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program

There is a presumption that an employee is entitled to common law reasonable notice upon termination of employment without cause. Employers may rebut this presumption through an enforceable termination clause that, at the very least, provides Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) minimums, and displaces an employee’s right to common law reasonable notice.

In the past year, the Ontario Court of Appeal made it clear that it will find as unenforceable a termination clause where even the slightest imprecision could result in an unlawful contract. This trend started in Andros v. Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc., where the Court narrowly interpreted a failsafe clause as applying only to the first part of a termination clause but not the second. In Rossman v. Canadian Solar Inc., the same Court concluded that savings provisions, such as a failsafe provision, cannot save employers who attempt to contract out of the minimum standards prescribed by employment standards legislation. And most recently, in Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., the Court struck down a valid “without cause” termination sub-clause because the “for cause” termination sub-clause was unenforceable. In short, the Court concluded that where one of the sub-clauses is unenforceable, the entire termination clause must fall and it will not be saved by a severability clause.


Continue Reading Another Termination Clause Bites the Dust

As COVID-related restrictions begin to be lifted, employers are properly focused on ensuring that their workplaces and workforces are prepared for reopening. However, there is some suggestion that full or partial reclosings, followed by subsequent reopenings, may need to occur until a vaccine is developed, mass immunity exists, or sufficient treatment methods are implemented. As

Our last installment focused on preparing physical workplaces for reopening, having regard to public health and occupational health and safety requirements. At this point, employers following along are alive to critical legal considerations that are unique to physical workplaces. In this installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook we discuss complex legal and practical considerations to return workforces to “COVID-prepared” workplaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 3)

Planning the Return to Work Process

With the pandemic situation continuously evolving, it can be difficult to think about anything besides the immediate response. The early days of the pandemic required employers to act fast and make quick decisions to protect workers, safeguard client/customer relationships, and stabilize operations. But, as restrictions are gradually lifted, and we move beyond the immediate crisis phase, employers across Canada need to carefully plan how to reopen workplaces, resume operations, and get people back to work. A carefully planned and deliberate approach to reopening is required to protect workers in the short-term and remain resilient in the long-term.

This installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will address key issues employers should consider when planning to reopen physical workspaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 2)

Why Have a Playbook?

As provincial governments move towards reopening their economies and taking steps to return to normal, employers must balance a range of important – and, at times, conflicting – considerations.

Some of the key questions may seem obvious:

  • Are we allowed to reopen and if so, when, and with what restrictions?
  • What steps are required to keep employees and all other individuals who come into or onto our premises safe?
  • How do we get our employees back to work, and what if they don’t want to return at this time?
  • How will reopening impact the availability of government support programs for us and our employees?

Over the coming days, through a series of client alerts, we will explore these questions and more, providing detailed and practical guidance that employers can draw upon and adapt for their specific workplaces. The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will break down common employment-related issues employers should consider when:

  1. Planning the return to work process;
  2. Implementing the return to work process; and
  3. Operating in a changed environment.


Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 1)

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) will be extended for an additional 12-week period to August 29, 2020. At the same time, the government announced retroactive regulatory changes, and legislative proposals expected to come into force at a later date. These changes were introduced in an effort to promote employment and stimulate economic recovery as restrictions are gradually lifted across Canada.

Immediate Changes to CEWS Eligibility:

The government introduced a series of regulations extending eligibility for the CEWS to the following categories of employers:

  • Partnerships with one or more non-eligible members will be eligible so long as non-eligible entity partners control a minority of the partnership’s interests at fair market value during the qualifying period;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.5) of the Income Tax Act, their wholly-owned subsidiaries that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.6) of the Income Tax Act, as well as partnerships where the partners are members of Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
  • Non-public education and training institutions, including for-profit and non-profit private colleges, schools, and institutions (i.e., arts schools, language schools, driving schools, flight schools and culinary schools);
  • National-level Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(g) of the Income Tax Act; and
  • Registered Journalism Organizations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(h) of the Income Tax Act.


Continue Reading Federal Government Extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy