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

Category Archives: Labour Relations

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Update on Ontario’s Employment and Labour Law Reform Bill

Posted in Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Legislative Changes, Legislative Requirements

The Ontario Government is moving forward with its plan to implement wide-sweeping changes to the province’s employment and labour laws. The proposed legislation, Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, will enter its Second Reading in the Ontario legislature soon. Our colleagues in Toronto recently addressed the status of Bill 148 in their blog post “Ontario’s Employment and Labour Law Reform Bill Continues to Undergo Changes.”

If you have any questions about Bill 148 and how it will impact your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us, Tim Lawson, Matthew Demeo or any lawyer … Continue Reading

Federal government restores former certification and decertification processes for unionization in federal workplaces

Posted in Labour Relations, Legislative Changes, Unions

On June 22, 2017, Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, came into effect. This legislation changes certification and decertification rules for federally regulated workplaces. For more information, please visit the blog post “Federal Government Restores Former Certification and Decertification Processes for Unionization in Federal Workplaces” prepared by our colleagues in Toronto.… Continue Reading

Government of Alberta proposes changes to labour and employment standards codes

Posted in Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Labour Relations, Legislative Changes

Last week, the Government of Alberta tendered and passed first reading of Bill 17: Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act . Bill 17 proposes a number of amendments to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. If passed, these amendments will have a significant impact on employers’ policies, practices and business as a whole.

For more information on the proposed changes, please visit the blog post “Bill 17 – Proposed Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code” prepared by our colleagues in Calgary.… Continue Reading

Government of Ontario releases the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report

Posted in Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Labour Relations
On May 22, 2017, the Ontario Government released the much-anticipated Changing Workplaces Review Final Report.

The Report recommends wide-sweeping changes to Ontario’s employment and labour laws. The Ontario Government is expected to act on many of the recommendations within weeks, and the reverberations will be felt across Canada.

For more information, please visit the blog post “Government of Ontario releases the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report” prepared by our colleagues in Toronto.

Continue Reading

Reasonable offer prevents litigious complainant from proceeding at BC Human Rights Tribunal

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Obligations, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Litigation

A recent decision of the BC Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) serves as a useful reminder of the utility of a reasonable settlement offer, which can result in the Tribunal putting an end to complaint proceedings without a hearing. In Sebastian v. Vancouver Coastal Health and others (No. 3), 2017 BCHRT 1, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (“VCH”) made a reasonable settlement offer and succeeded in having a human rights complaint filed by a litigious employee dismissed by the Tribunal under section 27(1)(d)(ii) of the Human Rights Code, thereby avoiding a 15-day hearing.

Background

Joseph Sebastian is an employee … 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

McCarthy Tétrault launches Alberta Employer Advisor blog

Posted in Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions

McCarthy Tétrault launched its 13th blog today, Alberta 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 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 Alberta marketplace. We encourage you to visit the blog and subscribe for regular updates.… Continue Reading

SCC Orders Parliament to Reconsider RCMP Labour Relations

Posted in Labour Relations, Legislative Changes

Until last Friday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was Canada’s only police force that was legislatively prohibited from unionizing. On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 1, that the exclusion of RCMP members from the definition of “employee” under the Public Service Labour Relations Act (Canada) [PSLRA] and the Staff Relations Representative Program (“SRRP”) infringed on RCMP members’ freedom of association under s.2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This decision overrules the Court’s previous decision in Delisle v. Canada Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Canada Gives Quick Win To BCTF On Parental Benefits

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Litigation, Unions

The Supreme Court of Canada recently made a rare oral ruling from the bench, giving the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (“BCTF”) a quick win in their appeal of a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding discrimination and unequal treatment under the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The case started in 2012 with a grievance filed by the BCTF against the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association and the Board of School Trustees of School District No. 36 (collectively, the “Employer”). The grievance alleged that the collective agreement discriminated against birth mothers in that … Continue Reading

New “Super Union” On The Block

Telecommunications Workers Union and United Steelworkers to Merge in 2015

Posted in Labour Relations, Unions

Since Unifor was created from the merger of Canadian Auto Workers and Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union last year, another merger of unions in Canada has seemed likely. The expectation became the reality on November 7 when the Telecommunications Workers Union voted to merge with the United Steelworkers. The merger will become effective January 1, 2015, but the two unions have announced they will begin joint activities immediately.

What can you expect from the new union? As we saw with Unifor, the new union will undoubtedly engage in renewed organizing efforts and other campaigns. The merger agreement promises an initial … 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

OH&S Month Part 2: Unsafe Work Refusals, Now Narrower for Federal Workers

Posted in Investigations, Labour Relations, Legislative Changes, Occupational Health and Safety, Unions, Workers Compensation

In every jurisdiction in Canada, employees and employers share the responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. In British Columbia, employers are required by the Workers Compensation Act [WCA], to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others working at their work place, which includes investigating safety risks and advising employees of same, and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate identified risks. Likewise, employees have obligations to protect their own and others’ health and safety, including reporting fit to work, wearing protective equipment, following safety procedures, and reporting any safety risks.

One aspect of … 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

SCC Decision Regarding Wal-Mart In Québec A Cautionary Case For All Canadian Unionized Employers

Posted in Labour Relations, Litigation, Termination, Unions

Our colleagues in Québec have produced a helpful summary of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision involving a Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Québec, found to have breached its statutory duties during the freeze period following certification of a bargaining unit.

After negotiations for a collective agreement reached a standstill, the Wal-Mart in question decided to close its doors, for what it alleged to be legitimate business reasons. The arbitrator appointed to decide the Union’s grievance of the closure concluded that Wal-Mart’s decision to close the store was not in the course of the company’s ordinary business and therefore breached section … 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

No Anonymity for Grievors

BC Labour Board rules that grievors and witnesses should be identified in labour arbitration decisions

Posted in Labour Relations, Privacy, Unions

The Labour Relations Board has upheld BC Arbitrator Stan Lanyon’s decision in Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1518 (discussed previously here) that the names of grievors and witnesses should, as a general rule, be published in labour arbitration awards.

The union argued that British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) prohibits the disclosure of the names of grievors and witnesses in labour arbitration awards without their consent. In the union’s view, the increasingly easy public access to arbitration awards because of sophisticated internet search engines and free legal websites like Canlii mean … Continue Reading

Hot Off the Press – Doing Business in Canada: Navigating Opportunities for Investment and Growth

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Privacy

If your organization is currently thinking about establishing or acquiring a business in Canada, the newest edition of Doing Business in Canada, written by McCarthy Tétrault, will prove to be a valuable resource. The guide provides a broad overview of the legal considerations that non-residents should take into account to help ensure their success as they enter into a business venture in Canada. Each section offers timely information and insightful commentary on different areas of law.

The book includes a chapter on employment in Canada, with sections on:

  • employment standards
  • labour relations
  • human rights
  • occupational health and safety
  • privacy
Continue Reading

Suncor Loses on Random Alcohol and Drug Testing

Issues about required evidence

Posted in Human Rights, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

The long-awaited arbitration decision is in, and the result is a loss for random alcohol and drug testing.  (See the Decision here and the Dissent here.)

Suncor had tried to implement a random drug and alcohol testing policy with respect to all of its  safety-sensitive employees in the oil sands.  The union resisted and was able to get an injunction from the Alberta courts to prevent implementation of the policy until the arbitration was completed.

A majority of the three member arbitration panel ruled against Suncor.  They found that there was insufficient evidence of a problem with alcohol and … Continue Reading

Teck Allowed to Proceed with Random Testing

New development in drug and alcohol testing

Posted in Employee Obligations, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Teck Coal will be allowed to continue to implement its random alcohol and drug testing policy while the union pursues its grievance to overturn the policy.  Arbitrator Colin Taylor had previously denied the union an interim order to stop implementation of the policy (see our previous post here) and the BC Labour Relations Board has dismissed the union’s appeal of that decision.  The decision is Teck Coal Limited, BCLRB No. B28/2014.

This means Teck will be allowed to follow its policy for now and the matter will go to arbitration for a decision as to whether the policy … Continue Reading

Victory for BCTF

$2 Million in damages may not be the worst of it

Posted in Labour Relations, Unions

Everybody knows by now that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has been awarded $2 million plus costs against the B.C. Government related to the dispute over class sizes.  The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the government simply duplicated previous legislation that had been declared unconstitutional.  The court had harsh words for the government, essentially finding that the government ignored the court’s previous orders and that it had tried to provoke a strike by the teachers,  supporting the court’s $2 million damage award, and likely a few hundred thousand in costs to be paid.

The cost to the public purse is bad … 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

Pick of the Blogs

Items of Interest for BC Employers

Posted in Employee Obligations, Labour Relations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Other McCarthy Tétrault blogs regularly touch on issues of importance for BC employers.  Here is a selection from the last month.

Managing the risks of holiday parties.  The office party season can be interesting.  Think about how you can manage the risks.

It’s flu season.   Tips for dealing with sickness in the workplace.

Trespassing on private property?  Maybe not.  Think picketing and leafleting.  A business’s property rights – and the ability to control trespassing – may not be as clear as you think, especially if the business invites the public on its property or operates in a publicly accessible area.… Continue Reading

Drug and Alcohol Testing: Safety vs. Privacy

Safety Wins For Now

Posted in Labour Relations, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Unions

Random alcohol and drug testing causes irreparable harm to privacy interests, but not allowing it creates a risk of even greater irreparable harm to safety.  That was the decision reached by an Arbitrator who was asked by a union to make an interim order to prevent the employer from implementing its new testing policy.  (The decision is Teck Coal Limited, Unreported Arbitration Award, May 9, 2013 (Taylor)).

This is NOT a finding that random alcohol and drug testing is allowed.  That is still very much in dispute and this decision was on the narrow issue of whether the employer … Continue Reading

Alberta Privacy Legislation Shot Down

Will also affect BC

Posted in Labour Relations, Privacy, Unions

The Alberta Personal Information Protection Act has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.  The sweeping decision was prompted by union video surveillance of people crossing a picket line.  Because PIPA does not have any exemption to allow for a union to advance its interests in a labour dispute, it was held to be an unreasonable restriction on the union’s freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter of Rights.

Alberta will have 12 months to make changes to the law before the declaration of invalidity takes effect.  BC is effectively in the same boat since its Personal Continue Reading