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Jordan Kirkness advises and represents employers in all areas of labour and employment law. Jordan is experienced in litigation, negotiation, and compliance, and he is committed to identifying the most practical, cost-effective and permanent solution in each case. Before joining Baker McKenzie in 2013, Jordan practiced at a large, full-service firm in Vancouver. He has been called to the bar in both British Columbia and Ontario, and he regularly represents employers with operations in multiple Canadian jurisdictions.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) refused the union’s leave application in Suncor Energy Inc v Unifor Local 707A, 2017 ABCA 313 (Suncor ) thereby leaving the Alberta Court of Appeal’s (ABCA) ruling intact. The ABCA had held that evidence of substance-related safety risks across an employer’s workforce (including both union and non-union workers) may be taken into account when assessing the permissibility of random testing of unionized workers.

Suncor  is a favourable result for employers because it is in step with taking a holistic approach to workplace safety. But it is by no means a green light for drug and alcohol testing in the workplace. With the legalization of recreational use of cannabis fast approaching, we outline the current state of the law and key best practices for workplace impairment testing. Continue Reading Legalization Draws Near, Where are We Now on Employee Testing?

Ontario universities and publicly-funded colleges are now required to develop and publicly post a free speech policy by January 1, 2019. No Bill has yet been introduced to detail these requirements. However, the government outlined the minimum standard for the policy and related requirements in a communication issued by the Office of the Premier on August 30, 2018. Continue Reading Ontario Moves to Protect Free Speech on Campus: Universities and Colleges Must Develop Free Speech Policy

Recreational cannabis is very much in the spotlight as the date for legalization approaches. Yet issues related to employee use of medical cannabis are still front and centre for many employers, as demonstrated by a pair of recent arbitration decisions: Re IBEW, Local 1620 and Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers Assn. Inc. (Uprichard) (2017), 281 LAC (4th) 246 (“Lower Churchill 1”) and Re Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers Assn. Inc. and IBEW, Local 1620 (Tizzard) 2018 Carswell Nfld 198 (“Lower Churchill 2”). Continue Reading Inability to Monitor Residual Impairment From Medical Cannabis May Constitute Undue Hardship

This is the second article in our two-part series in which we highlight changes under Quebec’s Bill 176, An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance.

In our first article, we outlined the new standard for directors’ and officers’ liability and several new compliance obligations for Quebec employers. Here we focus on changes to leave entitlements. Continue Reading “Sorry, I Need Time Off” ‒ Quebec Expands Employee Leave Entitlements

The National Assembly of Quebec has made wide-ranging changes to the province’s labour standards legislation. The amendments were enacted through Bill 176, An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance, which received Royal Assent on June 12, 2018. Employers with operations in Ontario and Alberta, should also be aware that these provinces also made significant changes to their respective employment standards legislation earlier this year.

This is the first of two articles summarizing the key changes in Quebec. This article outlines changes to the scope of liability for directors and officers and new compliance obligations for Quebec employers. The second article will outline changes to leave entitlements. Continue Reading Quebec Makes Broad Changes to its Workplace Standards

In Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board  (“Grand Erie “), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) held that statutory provisions permitting employers to reduce or discontinue employees’ benefits after they reach age 65 is discriminatory and contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter “). Consequently, employers should review their benefits plans, and consider whether it may be necessary to adjust or eliminate such age-based distinctions. Continue Reading HRTO Rules Legislation Permitting Different or No Benefits For Employees 65+ is Unconstitutional

The Ontario Government is abandoning its current method for calculating public holiday pay which came into effect under the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (“Bill 148”). Employers will need to revert back to the previous calculation method, although this reversal is only temporary. Ontario plans to introduce yet another calculation method following a review of the public holiday system, which is proposed to occur later this year. Continue Reading Ontario Reverts Back to Previous Public Holiday Pay Calculation (For Now)

The Ontario government has passed Bill 3, Pay Transparency Act, 2018. The Act imposes requirements on employers to promote equality of compensation between men and women, and to increase the transparency of information regarding compensation and workforce composition. The Act is set to come into force on January 1, 2019. Continue Reading Pay Transparency Obligations Coming But Not Until January 1, 2019

On April 1, 2018, employers in Ontario will be subject to the new equal pay provisions under the Employment Standards Act  (“ESA”) brought in by Bill 148. As a general rule, employers can no longer establish distinct pay rates based on a “difference in employment status”, defined as follows: Continue Reading Compliance Check: Do Your Pay Rates Comply with Bill 148?