Pressing deadlines, outgrowing employment contracts and…

Read this week's HR Heartbeat for the top employment trends. Find out the crucial deadlines you can't afford to miss. Plus, did you know employees can outgrow their contracts?

First published on Thursday, May 04, 2023

Last updated on Thursday, May 04, 2023

3 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business. Plus, get up-to-the-minute commentary on all things HR and legal.

So, let's check out this week's headlines…

Celebrating workers’ rights

Every May 1st, we celebrate International Workers' Day. This day honors the historic struggles and gains workers have made to get basic right like the right to fair pay and an 8-hour workday. As we celebrate modern workers' privileges, employers need to remember that not all workers have the same rights.

For a worker to be considered your employee, you must have total control over their tasks, pay, type of work and when or where they work. Additionally, you must give your employees the tools to perform their job. Employers can also suspend, fire, or discipline an employee.

Your employees must also enjoy the rights provided to them under the applicable employment standards legislation. Some of their basic rights include minimum wage, overtime pay, public holidays, vacation with pay and notice of termination and or termination pay. Employers must be mindful of providing these rights or risk facing legal penalties and costly fines.

Marking Mental Health Week

Since 1951, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has marked Mental Health Week during the first full week of May. This year marks the 72nd year of this Canadian tradition, with communities, schools and workplaces rallying to celebrate, protect and promote mental health. Employers should be proactive about mental health in the workplace as it can have devastating impacts on employees' personal lives and your business's success.

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada—at least 500,000 Canadians miss work every week due to mental health issues. To help your employees perform their best at work, you can offer free mental health support like an Employee Assistance Program to increase productivity, boost morale, and show your staff they're valued.

As an employer, you should also be open to flexible work schedules and provide mental health-related support to any staff who may need it. It's also important not to discriminate against workers who struggle with mental health challenges. Learn how to prevent mental health discrimination at work.

Employees outgrowing contracts

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision confirms that an employee can "outgrow" a termination clause. This applies if they've been with the company long enough for their duties to change significantly.

In a recent case, a company fired an employee in 2017 and tried to use the same termination notice period from the contract he signed in 2005. But since the employee's job responsibilities had drastically changed since he signed his contract, the termination clause was considered invalid.

This case shows the importance of giving employees new employment contracts when their job duties change significantly. It also shows the importance of always having a valid termination clause in your employee's contracts. This will limit the employee's termination benefits to the minimum stated in applicable employment laws.

Did you know employees are entitled to a longer notice period under common law when there's no valid clause? Find out more about employee notice periods and why they're important.

End-of-the-month deadlines

Provincially and federally regulated employers in British Columbia (B.C.) and applicable Ontario employers should prepare for two major legislative changes taking effect on June 1st.

Starting June 1st, all employers in B.C. must update their payroll to make sure they pay the new minimum wage rate ($16.75/hour). Federally regulated employers operating in B.C. should note that when the provincial minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, they must pay the higher rate.

Also, some Ontario employers must provide naloxone kits—a drug that temporarily undoes the effects of an opioid overdose—in the workplace. Workers must also be trained to administer the medication. And for a limited time, applicable Ontario employers can get free naloxone training and nasal spray naloxone kits through the province's Workplace Naloxone Program.

That's it for today! Come back next week for more HR news so you stay ahead of major employment law changes.


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