Ontario Employment Law Conference Agenda 

You'll find all the top issues employers in Ontario are facing on the agenda for this year's Employment Law Conference. Join us Tuesday, June 20, 2017, and as always we'll make sure you Learn the Latest® and leave ready to manage your workforce and workplace.

Employment law experts from Stringer LLP will cover the following topics:

8:00 a.m.

Continental breakfast and registration

9:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks
– Yosie Saint-Cyr, Managing Editor, First Reference

9:05 a.m.

Ryan Conlin

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Workplace
– Ryan Conlin

Employee claims of work-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are starting to appear with increasing frequency. They can arise in a number of contexts, including workplace accidents, violence and harassment and with disability claims. A new Workplace Safety and Insurance Board policy opens the door for such claims and also increases the risk of increased WSIB premiums.

This session will cover:

  • What kind of medical information employers can and should ask for when facing PTSD claims
  • The extent of the potential duty to accommodate employees with PTSD
  • How to respond to WSIB claims for PTSD

9:45 a.m.

Landon Young

When is it Truly Over? A Primer on Resignations
– Landon Young

Yogi Berra once famously said "It ain’t over till it’s over." But how do you know it’s truly over when an employee resigns? Employers can discover, to their surprise, that employees who have resigned can still come back and sue them for termination pay.

This session will provide guidance on:

  • The legal test for when an employee has truly resigned
  • When an employee may still be able to sue despite having resigned
  • What to do when you receive a resignation to minimize the risk of an employee suing your organization

10:15 a.m.

Question and answer session

10:30 a.m.

Networking break

10:45 a.m.

Allison Taylor

ESA-Only Termination Clauses: Where are We Now?
– Allison Taylor

An "ESA-only" clause in an employment offer or contract limits an employee’s entitlements to the minimums required under the Employment Standards Act. Such clauses can save employers a great deal of money on severance costs and legal fees. But when are they enforceable? The courts have been giving us conflicting messages.

This session will review:

  • The latest case law on the enforceability of ESA-only clauses
  • Tips and traps for preparing such clauses and using them in contracts
  • Whether employers can require current employees to agree to such clauses

11:30 a.m.

Jeremy Schwartz

Independent and Dependent Contractors and Employees: What You Need to Know About Structuring Your Work Relationships
– Jeremy Schwartz

Many organizations prefer to engage individuals as independent contractors for a number of reasons, including to minimize severance costs, avoid compliance with the Employment Standards Act and also to avoid running a payroll. However, calling an individual an independent contractor does not necessarily make it so. Also, legal liability risks can also arise if an individual is considered to be a "dependent contractor."

This session will review:

  • The legal test for determining whether an individual is an employee, an independent contractor or an employee
  • Potential legal liabilities for wrongly characterizing the work relationship as an independent contractor
  • Best practices for engaging individuals as independent contractors

12:00 p.m.

Question and answer session

12:15 p.m.

Lunch presentation
– The Honourable Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour

Minister Flynn will discuss the government's response to the recommendations of the Changing Workplaces Review, the most significant review of Ontario's employment and labour laws in decades. The recommendations include changes to vacations and vacation pay; hours of work and overtime; personal emergency leave and paid sick leave; pay for part-time, casual, temporary, seasonal and contract employees; ESA exemptions; bargaining rights; inspectors' powers; penalties; and more.

1:30 p.m.

Jeff Murray

Employment standards update
– Jeffrey Murray

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has been conducting a comprehensive review of employment laws that has included public hearings. The stated goal is to determine how better to protect vulnerable workers. This report can be expected to lay the groundwork for potentially far-reaching changes to employment and labour laws that could cause employers concern.


  • What changes to the law employers can expect
  • The expected timelines for these anticipated changes to be implemented
  • What employers can do now to get ready

2:00 p.m.

Frank Portman

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: How to Deal With it
– Frank Portman

The number of employees seeking accommodation to use medical marijuana in the workplace is steadily increasing. With full legalization of marijuana on the horizon, this will likely continue. But the use of medical marijuana in the workplace raises thorny legal issues that are still being addressed by the law.

This session will cover:

  • The extent of an employer’s potential duty to allow an employee to use medical marijuana in the workplace
  • How to address health and safety issues raised by medical marijuana
  • How to respond to requests to use medical marijuana at work

2:30 p.m.

Question and answer session

2:45 p.m.

Networking break

3:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

This year you will have an option of attending one of the following three sessions:

Session 1: AODA Employment Standards Compliance Workshop

Effective January 1, 2017, small organizations are required to be compliant with the employment standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The penalties for non-compliance can be significant. But compliance does not have to onerous or time-consuming. We will show you how to comply in an easy and painless manner.

Attendees will learn:

  • The employment requirements of AODA
  • What new policies you will need or how to revise your current ones
  • How to respond to employee disability needs in a manner that is consistent with AODA

Session 2: Workplace Harassment Investigations

The Bill 132 amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act require employers to provide for the investigation of harassment allegations in their OHS programs. However, these amendments are vague as to the scope of this duty to investigate and say nothing as to how employers should investigate. This session will provide you with guidance to deal with these new obligations.

Attendees will learn:

  • When the duty to investigate harassment complaints may be triggered
  • How to conduct an investigation into workplace harassment complaints
  • When to engage an outside party to conduct an investigation and how to address issues of confidentiality and privilege

Session 3: How to Manage Cyber-bullying, Social Media and Other Perils of the Electronic Workplace

Managing the electronic workplace is more complicated than ever. Workplace technology and social media have increased the prevalence of cyber-bullying and electronic harassment. But at the same time, employee privacy rights have arisen to make it more difficult for employers to address such activity. This session will help guide you through the legal minefield.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to prepare effective policies to reduce abuse of electronic and social media
  • The extent of employee privacy rights over electronic media
  • When employers may discipline or terminate for just cause for cyberbullying or abuse of electronic resources

4:00 p.m.

Conference closes

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Ontario Employment Law Conference

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Don't forget your continuing education hours!

This program is approved for 6.25 HRPA CPD hours. Contact Denise at 1 (800) 750-8175 to get yours.

The conference also qualifies for up to 5.25 hours of human resources law content, which may apply toward substantive CPD hours for lawyers and paralegals. In addition, this program complies with the Quebec requirements for activities automatically recognized as "out-of-province" activities.