New Legislation Improves Workers’ Rights

Jun 19, 2017

On June 1, 2017, the Ontario government introduced legislation that, if passed, would amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995. The Bill, entitled the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, is largely a response to the Report published by the Changing Workplaces Review and mounting public pressure by organizations such as the Workers’ Action Centre.

Some of the key changes proposed for the Employment Standards Act include:

  • Increasing the standard minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019, with an inflationary increase on October 1, 2019 and every year following;
  • Increasing vacation entitlement to three weeks per year for all employees of five years or more;
  • Permitting an employee to request a change to work schedule or location and mandating that the employer discuss such a request with the employee (note: this only applies to employees of at least three months);
  • Expanding personal emergency leave to all employees (not only those in workplaces of 50+ employees);
  • Providing two days of paid personal emergency leave; and
  • Requiring employers to provide employees with 48 hours’ notice to cancel a shift or else provide an employee with three hours’ wages.

Notably, the government also intends to add another 150 workplace inspectors to address the issue of enforcement.

While limited, these are positive changes for many employees.

Symes Street & Millard specializes in employment and human rights law and has represented parties in many cases both inside and outside of the courtroom. Contact us to discuss your options.

By Mika Imai; photo by OFL Communications, cc.

Employee who quit suddenly and “went dark” slapped with $75,000 bill

Jun 02, 2017

An employee who quits to work for a competitor can be liable for breach of contract and civil conspiracy, the Ontario Superior Court recently found after 10-day trial. But such a determination is going to turn on the facts, as you can tell from even a basic retelling of the background to Prim8 Group Inc v Tisi, 2016 ONSC 5662.

The Court found that a partner at an ad agency had left suddenly, with no notice, unlawfully taking sensitive client information and computer equipment under the cover of night.

A month later, one of his former employees left to join him at the former partner’s new firm. The former partner and the employee discussed how this employee should quit: by quitting suddenly and then “going dark” for a period. Going dark included refusing to attend work and refusing to respond to requests for security passwords.

As you can imagine, the company successfully sued the former partner. But what may not be obvious is that the employee that left was also liable for a portion of the damages — $40,000, plus a whopping $35,000 of his former employer’s legal bills.

The Court found that the employee breached implied terms in his contract of employment: the duty to give reasonable notice of resignation, and the duty of good faith and loyalty. These are implied terms of every employment contract, as we have explained in an earlier post.

The civil conspiracy aspect is a little more complicated. But the bottom line is that the employee and the former partner knew the employee’s sudden departure would cause harm to the employer, and he did it anyway. Add to that the unlawful act (quitting with no notice) and the fact it was discussed between them before it happened, and the Court concluded it amounted to conspiracy.

Navigating the end of an employment relationship is tricky, whether you are the employer or the worker who is leaving. However, as Tisi shows, there can be very real legal consequences for employees who don’t make that exit in good faith.

Symes Street & Millard specializes in employment and human rights law and has represented parties in many cases both inside and outside of the courtroom.

By Marcus McCann; photo by Ed Schipul, cc

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