CPHR Manitoba's HR Legislative Review covers hot topics in HR, employment law updates
May 21, 2019
Posted by: CPHR Manitoba
CPHR Manitoba hosted its 2019 HR Legislative Review at the Viscount Gort Hotel on May 1, 2019. Over 140 attendees came to hear from representatives at MLT Aikins LLP, Taylor McCaffrey LLP and Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, who shared updates on legislation, employment law, immigration law and educated attendees on off-duty conduct, investigating workplace complaints, legal risks of HR professionals and working with external legal counsel.
2019 Legislation Update - Devin Wehrle, MLT Aikins LLP
In this session, Wehrle covered three main topics: provincial changes for Manitoba, federal changes for everyone and federal changes that affect federally-regulated employers.
In Manitoba, there were changes to The Employment Standards Code - particularly around leaves of absence, the employment of young people and standard hours of work - and the introduction of bills for The Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act and The Labour Relations Amendment Act.
In Canada, the legalization of marijuana and changes to employment insurance relating to parental leave were noted. Effective March 17, 2019, parents can now share up to an extra five weeks of parental leave if using the standard option and eight weeks can be shared if using the 18-month option.
And if you're a federally-regulated employer, harassment prevention and changes to the Canada Labour Code are the biggest topics with a long list of noted changes in areas, including leaves of absence; holiday pay and continuous employment; breaks, rest periods and schedules; equal pay; and termination.
Immigration Law 2019: Can Canadians Enter the U.S. to Make America Great Again... and some Canadian Stuff, too! - Reis Pagtakhan, MLT Aikins LLP
In this session, Pagtakhan painted a vivid picture about the changes to Canada and the U.S. when it comes to immigration laws. The U.S. has made things difficult for Canadians who wish to cross the border for work. U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, "Buy American and Hire American", which set the tone for laws around hiring American citizens and protecting the economic interests of American businesses.
Meanwhile, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) opened new doors for Canadian businesses and established free-trade agreements with other countries that wished to come to Canada for business visitors, professionals and technicians, intra-company transfers and investors. While Canada has expanded immigration options for Canadian businesses, it has also cracked down on businesses that have violated immigration programs.
Employment Law Round Up - Bret Lercher, MLT Aikins LLP
In this session, Lercher discussed decisions made around the Human Rights Code (in Manitoba), case law from other jurisdictions that will impact non-union Manitoba employers and employment/labour cases.
Lercher talked about different cases and their outcomes that have occurred over the past 15 months. In one specific case, an employee who went on maternity leave and received merit salary increase later than she would have if she did not go on leave. The Human Rights Commission reviewed the jurisdiction surrounding "the reasonable accommodation of employees on maternity leave and their ability to prove satisfactory performance in order to earn merit-based salary increase".
Investigating Respectful Workplace Complaints - Shandra Czarnecki, MLT Aikins LLP
In this session, Czarnecki discussed statutory requirements around workplace policies and investigating allegations and incidents of respectful workplace issues.
The "Achilles Heel" of a respectful workplace policy is often found in the complaint and investigation process. The fact that a policy of this nature isn't a "one size fits all" approach means that the policy needs to be tailored to fit within the specific workplace.
Czarnecki also provided insights around warning signs to watch for when monitoring your workplace for harassment issues and ensuring that managers monitor for such unacceptable conduct as much as they monitor for unacceptable job performance. And if a complaint comes forward, ensure that it is taken seriously and that a proper, impartial review is conducted and a timely determination of the matter is reached.
Off-Duty Conduct - Jamie Jurczak, Taylor McCaffrey LLP
In this session, Jurczak sheds light on why we need to care about off-duty conduct.
Employers have no jurisdiction or authority over employees outside working hours; however, where there is sufficient nexus between work and off-duty conduct, discipline may be warranted, possibly even dismissal.
This includes the employee harming the company's reputation or product, the employee's behaviour renders the employee to be unable to perform their duties satisfactorily, or the employee's behaviour leads to the refusal, reluctance or inability of other employees to work with them.
Employers need to look at the nature of their work environment, the off-duty conduct, the employee's duties and responsibilities, the impact of the employee's external interests and statutory rights.
Obscure Legal Risks for HR Professionals: 'Quick Hits' on 3 Topics That May Not be on Your Radar - Silvia de Sousa, Colton Hnatiuk and Catherine Hamilton, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman
In this session, de Sousa, Hnatiuk and Hamilton took turns to discuss key areas that HR professions need to be mindful of from a legal standpoint.
de Sousa talked about intellectual property clauses in employment agreements - including intellectual property like client lists, trade secrets, branding and marketing pieces - and protecting your company's assets. The myth is that the employer is automatically the owner of any intellectual property created by the employee or contractor; the reality is that the employer needs to implement procedures to ensure that the employer is the owner.
Hnatiuk explored a third category of worker, apart from the typical Employee or Independent Contractor, called a Dependent Contractor. Hnatiuk outlined considerations that companies should be making when hiring a worker, and outlined the risks of a worker being deemed a Dependent Contractor. Dependent Contractors, as opposed to Independent Contractors, are entitled to reasonable notice upon termination, similar to an Employee, but are not entitled to other legislative entitlements as Employees may be. It is important to remember to clearly state the company’s intention in any agreement (Contractor or Employee) when hiring a worker. .
Hamilton then provided an in-depth discussion around privacy laws with a focus on securing employee personal information. HR professionals that collect, use, and disclose personal information about employees must ensure that they have appropriate security safeguards in place to protect employee personal information. Of critical importance is also developing a data breach response plan in the event that the security safeguards are breached.
Working with External Legal Counsel - Ryan Savage, Taylor McCaffrey
In this session, Savage provided a list of tips and the steps in the litigation process when working with external legal counsel. Having legal counsel can reduce risks and create protection around various employment policies and contracts, including confidentiality, notice of termination and overtime. With legal counsel you can also seek guidance where appropriate to assess the legal risks and liabilities before taking action. But to use legal counsel effectively, you need to be transparent, organized and strategic in your approach to handling given situations.
CPHR Manitoba hosts the HR Legislative Review every Spring.
Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, MLT Aikins LLP, and Supporter Sponsors, Taylor McCaffrey LLP, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, and Habitat For Humanity. Your support made the 2019 HR Legislative Review a success!