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Ask the Editor - Frequently asked Questions

Yosie Saint-Cyr

Ask the editor is all about giving our subscribers the chance to get answers to their questions directly from our resident expert.

For over 15 years, Yosie Saint-Cyr, a law-trained jurist, has been the managing editor of our First Reference blogs, HRinfodesk, The Human Resources Advisor, Accessibility Standards PolicyPro and Human Resources PolicyPro, all published by First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada's best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour law, including health and safety, human rights, payroll and accessibility standards, across the country.

What better way for Yosie to interact with our subscribers than by answering some of their most burning HR law related questions? Check out some of the questions we have received below, organized by category.

For those of you who are HRinfodesk subscribers login and submit a question for Yosie to answer. For those of you who are not subscribers, take a trial and get your questions answered as well. Feel free to ask anything related to employment and labour law including health and safety, human rights, payroll and accessibility standards.

Please Note: Any information provided in response to an HR or payroll question is not legal advice or a legal opinion. To obtain legal advice or a legal opinion, consult a lawyer.

Categories

Benefits
Broad Human Resources Issues
Budgets and Government Plans
Employee Relations
Employment and Hiring
Health and Safety
Pay and Working Conditions
Payroll
Posting Requirements and Enforcement
Terminations
Union Relations
Workplace Accommodation

Benefits

Q

How does sick leave provision work?

A

Sick leave is legislated in employment standards legislation in the following provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec. In provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario, Yukon, and federally regulated employers, sickness, illness and injury leaves are allowed under Family Responsibility Leave, Emergency Leave, or Illness and Injury Leave...


Q

An employee of ours finished her maternity leave, and is now on parental leave. The child was born with very complicated physical problems. She is asking for an extension of her leave period. Can the parental leave and EI benefits be extended? If so, for how long?

A

The period allowed for unpaid parental leave is established by employment standards legislation of the province or territory of employment, and varies between 35 to 52 weeks. Federally regulated employers, provincial and territorial jurisdictions like Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon ...

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Broad Human Resources Issues

Q

How do I know if my company is governed by the Canada Labour Code or the Employment Standards Act?

A

It depends on the nature of your business. Provincial or territorial labour laws apply to 90% of the Canadian workforce while the federal Canada Labour Code applies to only 10%. Here is my lesson on Constitutional law 101 as it relates to labour laws...

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Budgets and Government Plans

Q

Registered Plans: 2003 Budget - How do the proposed increases to the limits on tax-assisted retirement savings affect RRSPs, DPSPs and RPPs?

A

It is proposed that the money purchase limit be increased to $15,500 for 2003, $16,500 for 2004 and $18,000 for 2005. For 2006 and subsequent years, the money purchase limit will be increased by...

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Employee Relations

Q

My boss is a bully. He regularly yells at me and demeans me in front of my colleagues, making coming to work a terrible experience. Do I have any recourse?

A

Possibly. It is an implied term of every contract of employment or employment relationship that your employer will provide you with a fair, civil and decent workplace. From a legal perspective, if it can be established, based on objective evidence and on a balance of probabilities, that your boss has created an intolerable work environment...

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Employment and hiring

Q

Must I provide a written reference for an ex-employee?

A

An employer has no legal obligation to provide a former employee with a reference, regardless of whether the employee has resigned or was dismissed with or without cause. However, if a court finds that a terminated employee took longer to find a job...

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Health and Safety

Q

How does an employer respond to a work refusal by an employee?

A

Employees have a right to refuse work that is unsafe if it is likely to endanger them, or another employee. This right is an important factor in the internal responsibility system under which employers and employees share the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace...

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Pay and Working Conditions

Q

When do supervisors qualify for overtime?

A

Supervisors qualify for overtime only when they perform non-managerial duties that differ from their usual work. Consider, for example, an employee of a fast food restaurant whose job is to manage and supervise the employees...

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Payroll

Q

Are bonuses, incentives, awards, and gifts a taxable benefit? Are they included in the employee's income?

A

The above are considered taxable earnings and unless otherwise stated, are all subject to deductions for CPP, EI, and income tax. The exception is...

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Posting requirements and Enforcement

Q

I was recently terminated by my employer. Can I simply file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch of the Ministry of Labour for wrongful dismissal, or do I need a lawyer?

A

You must be careful about how you proceed. Your recovery under the Employment Standards Act is limited. You will likely be entitled to between one and eight weeks notice of termination, based on the length of your service and...

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Terminations

Q

I am involved in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit with my former employer. They are being unreasonable, if not stubborn, on settlement. Is there anything I can do to effectively back them into a tight corner?

A

Yes, the Rules of Civil Procedure in Ontario, and other jurisdictions, provide a mechanism for realistic and reasonable litigants to put the other party, in this case your former employer, at greater risk if they behave unreasonably...

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Union Relations

Q

What is a collective agreement?

A

TA collective agreement is a written contract of employment between the employees represented by a trade union and the employer. This agreement contains provisions governing the terms and conditions...

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Workplace Accommodation

Q

As an employer, do I have a duty to accommodate religious holidays not covered by statutory holidays?

A

The duty arises when a person's religious beliefs conflict with an "employment" requirement, qualification or practice. Human rights legislation imposes a duty to accommodate based on the needs of the group of which the person making the request is a member...

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