Compensation & Benefits

Courts usually treat incentive compensation as part of the compensatory damages owed in lieu of common law reasonable notice of dismissal. However, if the employment contract and/or the incentive plan unambiguously extinguish entitlement to incentive compensation upon notice of dismissal, the agreement(s) will generally prevail over the common law entitlement. In O’Reilly v. IMAX Corporation, the Ontario Court of Appeal once again stressed the importance of using precise language in bonus or stock option plans to deny, or otherwise limit, employee entitlement to incentive compensation during the reasonable notice period.
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On December 10, 2019, Bill 132: Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, received Royal Assent. Bill 132 amends many existing statutes to modernize outdated and ineffective regulatory requirements, aiming to increase regulatory efficiency. Amendments to the Ontario Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) will give rise to the following key changes:

  1. Electronic Communications: Members

On November 7, 2019, Bill 124: Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, received Royal Assent. The Act imposes compensation restraints on certain public sector employees with the aim of giving employers in the broader public sector a measure of predictability as to their future payroll cost increases.
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In City of Toronto v. CUPE, Local 79, the Ontario Divisional Court reaffirmed that employers may provide less compensation to an employee who works reduced hours due to a disability without violating the Human Rights Code (“Code”). In this case, the employer discontinued its past practice of permitting employees working part-time hours to remain in the full-time bargaining unit. The change meant that the grievor, who worked part-time hours as an accommodation for his disabilities, suffered a reduction in his benefit entitlements. The Court held that the reduction to the grievor’s benefit entitlements was not discriminatory under the Code.
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We’re in a period of unprecedented transformation, driven by technological development, globalization and significant demographic changes. Our world is hyper-connected, and the pace of change is rapid, bringing social and political transformation and creating profound global shifts in expectations. Global employers must evolve at speed to meet these disruptive forces head-on and to thrive in

The Ontario Court of Appeal has reiterated that, barring exceptional circumstances, reasonable notice for dismissal without cause will not exceed 24 months. The Court partially overturned the lower court’s decision in Dawe v The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, which also ruled on the enforceability of unilateral changes to the employer’s bonus plan.
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The Supreme Court of Canada will decide if an employee is entitled to payments owed in the event of a corporate acquisition despite the fact that the employee resigned over a year before the triggering event. On January 31, 2019, the SCC granted leave to appeal in Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited. The employee asserts that he is entitled to over $1 million in profits following the acquisition of his former employer – even though he had resigned 13 months before the transaction. If the SCC decides in the employee’s favour, employers may face more challenges (and increased litigation) when seeking to enforce limiting clauses in employment agreements.
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The #MeToo and Times Up movements have led to significant cultural shifts and a collective call to action to end sexual harassment and related forms of exploitation. Since many of the high profile allegations involved abuse of power and quid pro quo demands in the context of employment relationships, the impact on employers has been profound.
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To mark International Women’s Day, we’re pleased to share an article from our US colleagues on recent efforts to close the gender pay gap, including salary history bans in the US and global efforts toward transparency reporting. The article, authored by Todd BoyerCaroline Burnett and Elizabeth Ebersole, can be accessed here.