The Ontario government has announced that it will introduce legislation, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, in the coming days to reform the province’s employment standards legislation. The announcement follows last week’s release of the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report which contained a myriad of recommendations for reforms to benefit employees.[1]

The key changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) that the government has indicated will be included in the proposed legislation are summarized below.
Continue Reading Ontario Responds Quickly to Strengthen ESA

In the recent decision of Covenoho v. Pendylum Ltd., 2017 ONCA 284, the Ontario Court of Appeal put an end to any debate about the enforceability of termination provisions in employment agreements that may violate minimum employment standards legislation in the future. The takeaway for employers from the case is as simple as it is noteworthy: a termination provision that breaches minimum employment standards legislation in the future – even if compliant at the time of the employee’s termination from employment – is void and therefore will not be enforced.
Continue Reading Into the Void: Potential Future Violations of ESA Sufficient to Set Aside Employment Contract

Earlier this year, we wrote about the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) publication of the Final Rule, which significantly increased the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for the “white collar” exemption and the highly compensated employee exemption under federal law (see our blog post here). However, on November 22, 2016, a 

On July 27, 2016, an Ontario court certified a class action against Just Energy, a natural gas and electricity retailer, in which 7,000 of its sales agents claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors.

The case, Omarali v. Just Energy, is the first of its kind to be certified in Canada. If the sales agents are successful, the company could face large liabilities relating to unpaid wages (including overtime, vacation and public holiday pay) and unremitted income taxes and other required deductions.
Continue Reading First in Class: Independent Contractor Class Action Certified in Canada

Canadian businesses with operations in the United States should be aware that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently unveiled its amended proposal to collect summary pay data from employers with 100 or more employees. Under the proposed amendments, employers who already file an Employer Information Report (EEO-1) will be required to also report

Starting June 10, 2016, Ontario employees have increased protection regarding the tips and gratuities left by customers. As we discussed in a previous post, Bill 12 amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to prohibit employers from withholding, making deductions from, or collecting tips or other gratuities from employees, unless authorized to do so under the ESA.
Continue Reading Keep the Change! New “Tips” Legislation Coming Into Force

The first half of 2016 has already brought significant developments in employment law in the United States, triggering changes that companies with operations in the US must implement and plan for now. From final Department of Labor regulations increasing the salary requirements for exempt employees, to the new federal trade secrets law that will require updates to confidentiality agreements, in-house counsel and HR professionals have to develop best practices and strategies to navigate and comply with several new initiatives today. How can you help “save the day” for your company?


Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar – How to Be Your Company’s Superhero: The Top US Employment Developments You Need to Know for 2016

Canadian businesses with operations in the United States should be aware of recent and significant changes to the overtime rules. Yesterday, the US Department of Labor (DOL) published the long-awaited amendments to the “white collar” exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees, as well as the provision governing highly-compensated employees.  The Final Rule significantly increases the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for a white collar exemption and for the highly compensated employee exemption under federal law.  The increased minimum salary must be implemented by December 1, 2016, which gives employers approximately 200 days to prepare for and comply with the Final Rule.
Continue Reading US Department of Labor Publishes Final Overtime Rules

A recent New York Times article about the workplace culture at Amazon has spurred increased debate about the value of so-called “purposeful Darwinism”, in which competitive pressures (both internal and external to the workplace) and grand ambitions foster a cut-throat and gruelling workplace environment that leaves employees struggling to keep up or out in the cold.

Being at the top of any field, some would argue, demands this type of attitude and requires employees and managers who settle for nothing less than the best. When a company operates in a fast-paced, high-stakes industry that rewards continual improvement, hyper-efficiency, precision, and immediate satisfaction, there may be very little room for either error or rest. In exchange for a few years of catering to extraordinary expectations, employees receive above-marker compensation, responsibility, and experience that they might not gain in a less exacting workplace. This assumes, of course, that employees have the option of moving up or moving on, which is often more true for white-collar employees than blue-collar ones.

On the other hand, some companies appear to have achieved remarkable growth while maintaining a positive space for employee engagement and encouraging a more even work/life balance – on the whole, even if not day-to-day. For these companies, corporate sustainability extends beyond ensuring a healthy profit margin and minimal carbon footprint. Rather, it also involves ensuring that key talent can be attracted, encouraged, and maintained and that the diversity of the workforce is harnessed and propelled into innovative ideas and approaches. This attitude towards employee relations may require sacrificing short-term gains for potentially long-term viability – a cost that some employers, particularly those with demanding shareholders, may be unwilling or unable to pay.
Continue Reading Workplace Tug-of-War: Balancing Employee Demands with Employer Expectations