In an encouraging decision for employers, the Ontario Court of Appeal clarified that a corporation is not a common employer just because it “owned, controlled or was affiliated with another corporation that had a direct employment relationship with the employee”. In O’Reilly v. ClearMRI Solutions Ltd., 2021 ONCA 385, the Court affirmed that the
In light of recent social justice movements, businesses are increasingly aware of issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion, making it essential for employers to take proactive steps to address inequality in the workplace. Our presenters explore how to set up special programs under human rights legislation, and discuss best practices for advancing substantive equality in…
To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2020.…
Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2020
As of January 1, 2021, the new stand-alone Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”) will come into force to ensure employers prevent harassment and violence in federally regulated industries and workplaces. The Regulations will apply to all federal work places covered under Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code), including the federally regulated private sector, the federal public service and parliamentary work places. It will replace Part XX (violence prevention) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR), as well as portions of two other regulations that include violence prevention provisions.
Once the Regulations come into force, employers must:
- Prepare the workplace harassment and violence prevention policy working jointly with the policy committee, the workplace committee, or the health and safety representative;
- Assess the risk of workplace harassment and violence;
- Inform and train employees, and participate in training themselves;
- When an incident of harassment or violence is reported, respond within seven days;
- Keep records on every incident of harassment and violence in the workplace and report annually to the Labour Program; and
- Implement corrective measures in response to the investigation report of an investigator to prevent future occurrences of harassment and violence.
On June 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the highly publicized case of Heller v Uber Technologies Inc. The case arises from a Toronto-based UberEATS driver’s effort to bring a $400-million class action against Uber, on behalf of Uber and UberEATS drivers in Ontario. Mr. Heller alleged that Uber violated the Employment Standards Act, 2000 by treating Uber and UberEATS drivers as independent contractors and failing to provide them with employment-related entitlements like minimum wage, vacation, and overtime pay.
The issue before the Court was the validity of an arbitration clause in a standard form service agreement. The agreement was governed by the law of the Netherlands and required drivers to litigate their disputes with Uber in the Netherlands. Uber required all of its prospective drivers to enter into this agreement by having them accept the terms through their app. The Court ruled in favor of the drivers, finding that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because its terms effectively made it effectively impossible for the drivers to arbitrate their claims.
As a result of the decision, the class action can proceed to a certification motion.
Employers with arbitration clauses in their employment contracts or independent contractor agreements must revisit their agreements to determine whether they continue to be valid in Canada. Based on the Court’s decision, employers should not have arbitration clauses that require employees to pay substantial upfront fees to initiate the process. Employers should also consider whether they should pay the administration fees required for private arbitration, subject to the company’s right to a refund of those fees if it is successful in arbitration. If employers choose to keep arbitration clauses, they should ensure that in-person hearings remain local.
On April 1, 2020, the Canadian government provided further details about its plan to help Canadian employers by providing a 3-month, 75% wage subsidy, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Parliament will likely soon be recalled to consider, debate, and pass legislation to create the wage subsidy program. For now, the preliminary plan for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is as follows:
- The subsidy will be 75% of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, or a maximum benefit of $847 per week, per employee. There is no limit on the amount that employers can claim, although entitlement will be based on the actual wages paid to employees.
- Employers of all sizes will be eligible to participate, provided they meet the remaining criteria. As a result, the program will be available to sole proprietors, taxable corporations, and partnerships. Special rules are expected for employees who do not deal at arm’s length with the employer. Public sector entities will be excluded from the program, but it is unclear if the program will apply to “quasi-public” or “broader public” sector employers who receive a small percentage of funding from the government.
All Canadian provinces have adopted emergency measures requiring the closure of non-essential businesses, and today the Ontario government revised its list of “essential businesses”. To help you keep up with these changes, we have provided a chart below that includes a hyperlink to the current essential service list in each province, and lists the potential penalties for failure to comply in each jurisdiction.…
Continue Reading Non-Essential Business Shutdowns Across Canada
On March 23, 2020, both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier François Legault announced a major development in the management of the COVID-19 crisis in each of their provinces: the immediate shut down of all non-essential services , effective Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The Ontario shutdown is for at least two weeks, while Quebec’s shutdown is for at least three weeks.…
Continue Reading Ontario and Quebec Order Non-Essential Business Shutdowns
Claims alleging the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees are widespread. Properly classifying a worker’s status is critical because it determines substantive legal rights. In addition to independent contractors and employees, in Canada, there is a hybrid category — dependent contractors. To be classified as a dependent contractor, the contractor must be “economically dependent” on a particular client. Dependent contractor status may be found even where a worker conducts business through a corporation and hires employees to assist in the performance of the work.
In a significant decision, Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Foodora Inc., the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the Board) held that couriers delivering food on behalf of Foodora Inc., an app based food delivery company, were dependent contractors under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the Act) and thus have the right to unionize under the Act. This is one of the first decisions commenting on the status of workers in the gig economy.
The Ontario Court of Appeal released yet another decision on the interpretation and enforceability of termination clauses: Rossman v. Canadian Solar Inc., 2019 ONCA 992. Recent appellate decisions on this matter have been inconsistent on this issue and unfortunately, Rossman is more bad news for employers. Nevertheless this decision provides guidance that should be considered in reviewing and drafting termination provisions in employment contracts.…
Continue Reading Saving Provisions Unable to Save Termination Clauses