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British Columbia Employer Advisor Keeping Employers Posted on Developments in Labour and Employment Law

Category Archives: Employment Standards

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BC Supreme Court clarifies law regarding employment probation

Posted in Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Termination

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently addressed key issues regarding probationary periods in employment contracts.


In Ly v. British Columbia (Interior Health Authority), 2017 BCSC 42, the contract of employment executed by the plaintiff, Mr. Ly, contained the following probation clause:  “Employees are required to serve an initial probationary period of six (6) months for new positions” (the “Probation Clause“).

Mr. Ly was dismissed from his position after two months and challenged the enforceability of the Probation Clause. He argued that such a brief reference to probation was not sufficient to rebut the common law … Continue Reading

B.C. announces a 50 cent increase to the minimum wage effective September 15, 2017

Posted in Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Wage and Hours

Earlier this month, we posted a list of minimum wage increases across Canada and noted Premier Christy Clark’s May 2016 announcement that the provincial government was committed to raising the minimum wage for employees in British Columbia to $11.25 per hour effective September 15, 2017 (click here).  In line with this commitment, B.C.’s Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Ministry issued a news release yesterday announcing that, effective September 15, 2017, the minimum wage will rise by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour and the minimum wage for liquor servers will increase to $10.10 an hour. Read the full news … Continue Reading

Minimum Wage Increases in 2017

Posted in Employment Standards, Wage and Hours

Minimum wage increase are on the horizon for employees across Canada.

  • Alberta: On October 1, 2016, the general minimum wage increased to $12.20 per hour, liquor servers were included in the general minimum wage category, and salespeople received a wage increase to $486/week. Effective October 1, 2017, the general minimum wage will increase to $13.60 per hour, and the rate for salespeople will increase to $542/week.
  • New Brunswick: Effective April 1, 2017, the minimum wage will increase from $10.65 to $11.00 per hour.
  • Quebec: Effective May 1, 2017, the general minimum wage will increase from $10.75 to
Continue Reading

Doing Business in Canada 2016: Read the latest updates to our popular guide

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Human Capital, Human Rights


McCarthy Tétrault’s Doing Business in Canada provides a user-friendly overview of central aspects of the Canadian political and legal systems that are most likely to affect new and established business in Canada. The newest edition reflects legislative changes including:

  • Changes to the Competition Act and Investment Act Canada;
  • and an updated Mergers and Acquisitions chapter including new rules on takeover bids in Canada.

General guidance is included throughout the publication on a broad range of discussions. We also recommend that you seek the advice of one of our lawyers for any specific legal aspects of your proposed investment or activity.… Continue Reading

Have your say: federal employers may soon have to accommodate “millennials”

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Human Rights, Legislative Changes

Employment and Social Development Canada recently released a Discussion Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements, signaling potential changes to the Canada Labour Code (“Code”). The Discussion Paper follows on the federal government’s November 2015 mandate to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to amend the Code in order to allow workers in federally regulated sectors to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers. Employers would then be obliged to respond to such requests, and could only deny requests on “reasonable business grounds”. Changes to the Code would affect some 880,000 employees working for over 11,450 employers in federally Continue Reading

McCarthy Tétrault launches Québec Employer Advisor blog

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations

McCarthy Tétrault launched its 14th blog today, Québec Employer Advisor, to help clients manage the challenges they face in today’s workplace. The blog provides employers and HR professionals with analysis of the latest legal issues that affect employment-related practices, labour and human resources policies in Québec. In addition to providing clients with insights on the implications of new case law, as well as updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments, the blog will be regularly updated with practical tips, specifically relevant in the Québec marketplace. We encourage you to visit the blog and subscribe for regular updates.… Continue Reading

Maternity leave was no reason to reduce bonus

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

Employment agreement interpreted in light of statutory right to maternity leave

The recent decision of the B.C. Supreme Court in Sowden v. Manulife Canada Ltd. is noteworthy for its interpretation of a written agreement regarding bonus payments, and the court’s reluctance to allow an employer to use an employee’s maternity leave as a reason to reduce her bonus payment.

Janice Sowden was a regional marketing director for Manulife Canada Ltd. (“Manulife”). Her remuneration was made up of a base salary plus a variable bonus, calculated partly on her success in recruiting new financial advisors to work for Manulife. In essence, … Continue Reading

Time Off to Vote in Municipal Elections?

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Wage and Hours

Are employers obligated to give employees time off to vote in the general local elections this Saturday, November 15?

The short answer is no. Unlike in provincial and federal elections, there is no statutory obligation under the Local Government Act on employers to provide employees with time off from work to vote in local government or municipal elections. The polls for these elections are open from 8am-8pm, and employees may vote in advance polls or even by mail ballot if they have conflicting commitments on the general voting day.

Although there is no legal obligation to provide time off, we … Continue Reading

Teachers’ Strike: What does it mean for your workplace?

Posted in Accommodation, Discrimination, Employment Standards, Family Status, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Unions, Wage and Hours

While talks continue, there is no immediate end in sight for the ongoing teachers’ strike. For employees with school-age children, this may mean facing a child care gap starting next week. As an employer, what are your legal obligations and what can you do to make sure work continues while school’s out?

The Legal Framework

First, the Employment Standards Act provides all employees in the province with up to five (5) unpaid days of family responsibility leave each year for the care, health and education of a child in an employee’s care.  Employers do not have the discretion to … Continue Reading

Update on Overtime Class Actions in Canada

Ontario Court approves unique settlement of overtime class action

Posted in Employment Standards, Litigation, Wage and Hours

Canadian employers have been watching a series of class action claims, with employees claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid overtime, since 2007. While overtime class action claims are still not possible in British Columbia (for the reasons discussed here), claims can balloon in other provinces when a representative plaintiff claims unpaid overtime for themselves and on behalf of colleagues.

On August 12, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved the settlement of one of these overtime class actions, Fulawka v. The Bank of Nova Scotia.  Our colleagues in Calgary have posted about this recent development … Continue Reading

Saskatchewan: New Hotbed of Labour Law?

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Unions, Wage and Hours

With brand new labour and employment legislation, and a major case before the Supreme Court of Canada, Saskatchewan seems to be the current ‘centre of the action’ in Canadian labour law.

Constitutional Right to Strike?

On May 16, 2014, a very significant labour law appeal – Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, from the Saskatchewan Court of Appealwas argued before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and other unions argued that two pieces of provincial legislation violated employees’ right to freedom of association protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Continue Reading

What Do Your Policies Say About Termination?

… and does it matter?

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Termination, US vs.Canadian Employment Law, Wrongful Dismissal

Many employers have policies about termination, and specifically about what an employee is entitled to if terminated without cause.  It is a good idea to try to manage the cost of terminations, but it needs to be done properly to be effective.

Oliver v. Sure Grip Controls is a recent case where a termination policy was reviewed.  The employer tried to limit its liability by reference to the policy set out in the employee handbook.  The employer had gone to the trouble of having the handbook reviewed and signed by the employee, but the handbook included this underlined statement:

I Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager: Spring Cleaning – Performing an HR Audit

Posted in Discipline, Employment Standards, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Termination, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

Our colleagues in Ontario recently posted a very useful outline of an HR audit that will help BC employers ensure they stay up-to-date and on top of the wide variety of employment-related demands in their operations. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.… Continue Reading

Proposed Employment Law Reform in Ontario

Bill 146 Worth Watching

Posted in Employment Standards, Immigration, Investigations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation

The Ontario government has introduced a bill to make significant changes to employment law in that province.  Every BC employer with employees in Ontario should follow the course of these proposed changes.

As our colleagues in Ontario note, the Bill may not become law under the current government, but the proposals are wide-ranging and follow earlier Law Reform Commission recommendations.  See their analysis here.… Continue Reading

Best of the Blogs

Items of Interest for BC Employers

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Human Capital, Human Rights, Litigation, Privacy, Termination, Wage and Hours

Our firm now publishes 10 different blogs, and they often have items of interest for BC employers.  Here is a sampling of recent posts:

Customer Contacts on Linkedin = Property of the Employer – good news from the UK courts.

Five Employment Issues Facing Retailers – similar issues for retailers in BC.

Notices of Termination – can you terminate an employee before the effective date of their resignation?

Restrictive Covenants and Sale of a Business – how are they interpreted and when will they be enforced?

10 Things You Should Know About BC’s New Limitation Act – including reducing the … Continue Reading

No Double Recovery by Employee

Employment Standards Damages Deducted from Wrongful Dismissal Damages

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

A British Columbia employer has won a case to avoid double recovery of Employment Standards and wrongful dismissal damages.  The decision in Roy v. Metasoft Systems Inc. is another piece of good news for employers to go with our recent post about the BC Human Rights Tribunal helping to discourage forum hopping.

Ms. Roy was a software sales associate.  She complained to her employer about not getting all the commissions she thought she had earned.  She threatened to file a complaint for unpaid wages with the Employment Standards Branch.  The employment relationship went downhill from there and her employment was … Continue Reading

If Employees are Telecommuting …

Bucking the Yahoo! Trend

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Human Capital, Occupational Health and Safety, Wage and Hours

Telecommuting may be on the way out at Yahoo! but it is very much alive elsewhere.  So if you have employees who are working from home, or if you are considering it,  you should think through the employment issues.

The first question is:   Do you have a written agreement to set out the telecommuting rules?  If not, you need one.

The next question is:  What does the telecommuting agreement need to address?  Here is a list of some issues to consider:

  • How do you monitor and manage hours of work?   Unless you fit into one of the exemptions in the
Continue Reading

Annual Client Conference

Conference Materials Available Online

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Human Rights, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Termination

Thanks to over 230 clients who attended our annual full day client conference on Friday March 8.

The materials for all the presentations and workshops are available online here.

The materials cover:

  • What we can expect from an NDP government in Victoria
  • Privacy in workplace computers
  • Bill 14 – The new harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace provisions
  • Pension and Benefits law developments
  • A review of human rights, employment and labour cases from the past 12 months
  • Thinking about staying non-union
  • Written employment contracts and policies
  • Best practices in terminations
Continue Reading

Collective Agreement Severance Not Payable

Only accrued rights survive termination of the agreement

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Termination, Unions, Wrongful Dismissal

Employees terminated after the expiry of their collective agreement are not entitled to severance pay.  That is the bottom line, and the end of the line, for the former employees of Mercury Graphics since November 8, 2012 when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear their appeal.  The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision stands and provides some useful guidance for employers throughout Canada.

It is important to note that the result could be different under different collective agreement language.  Some things to consider are highlighted below.

In the case of Mercury Graphics, the collective agreement term ended and the … Continue Reading

Month in Review

Posted in Accommodation, Age, Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Damages, Discipline, Discrimination, Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Family Status, Human Capital, Human Rights, Immigration, Investigations, Just Cause, Labour Relations, Litigation, Murphy's Laws of HR, Privacy, Recruiting, Termination, Unions, US vs.Canadian Employment Law, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation, Wrongful Dismissal

The bloggers of BC Employer Advisor issued our first Month in Review to summarize our most recent posts.

Visit the summary here.

 … Continue Reading

At Will Employment: What’s the Big Deal?

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Just Cause, Termination, US vs.Canadian Employment Law, Wrongful Dismissal

Employment in Canada is not “at will”. But is at will employment really all it’s cracked up to be? Does it make the United States a friendlier place for employers?

We don’t think so and we are happy to engage Jeff Polsky in the discussion.

Jeff started this on the California Employment Law blog with a post, Like a Whole Different Country, suggesting that being an employer without at will employment was too scary to contemplate. Well, the fact is that employers in Canada are doing just fine, thank you very much, having traded the lottery of at will … Continue Reading

Overtime Class Actions and the Special Position of BC Employers

Posted in Discrimination, Employment Standards, Human Capital, Immigration, Recruiting, Wage and Hours

Big news from Ontario on overtime claims – the Court of Appeal will allow claims for statutory overtime by CIBC and Bank of Nova Scotia employees to proceed as class actions.

Fortunately for British Columbia employers, such class actions are still not possible in British Columbia.

CIBC won the first two rounds of the fight, and BNS was hoping to get the same break at the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Instead, both class action claims have been certified, allowing the overtime claims on behalf of the banks’ employees to proceed.  Subject to appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada, employees … Continue Reading

Termination Clauses and Mitigation

Posted in Damages, Employee Obligations, Employment Standards, Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision sounds a warning to employers – if you want to have a set amount of notice or compensation for termination without cause, AND you want to require the former employee to mitigate, you need to say so explicitly in the contract.

Goss Power Products had a written contract with its employee Bowes that stipulated that he would get six months notice or salary in lieu of notice if he was terminated without cause.  On termination, Bowes was told he would get six months salary continuance if he looked for other employment.  He was … Continue Reading