EMC Canada together with representatives from the Hicks Morley Team welcomed Manufacturers to Special Employment Updates in Kingston, Peterborough, Vaughan and Brantford this week. There are a number of impending changes in Employment Legislation and these Special Focused Events provided a perfect opportunity and forum for Senior Managers, Human Resource Representatives and Health and Safety Co-Ordinators to learn, discuss and review the impact these changes may have on our businesses.
Hicks Morley devotes their practice exclusively to representing employers on human resources law and advocacy issues. They are the leading firm in Canada practicing in this area, with over 100 lawyers in five cities in Ontario. Vince Panetta and Colin Youngman from the Kingston Office joined us for the sessions in Eastern Ontario. Daniel Fogel participated as our Guest Speaker in Vaughan representing the Toronto office and Kathryn Meehan from the Waterloo division joined our group in Brantford. EMC Canada has always been grateful for the time the Hicks Morley Team provides us and their efforts to keep us up to date with respect to Legislative Issues. This month our focus was on Workplace Violence, ESA Amendments, Wrongful/Constructive Dismissals, AODA and Pandemic Planning. True to the spirit of networking, we had some rather lively discussions on new Act requirements. Case study examples helped those participating to understand why Government is requesting changes to current legislation.
Workplace Violence - Bill 168
Our Guest Speakers introduced the importance of the Amendment to the Workplace Violence Act by citing some case studies from recent years. Did you know that 17% of all self-reported incidents of violence occurred at the workplace? The definitions according to the Act for Workplace Violence and for Workplace Harrassment follow below:
* The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
* An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker.
* "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known unwelcome"
In essence, Workplace Violence can be viewed as any overt exercise of physical force by "anyone" - and from an Employer's perspective this is not just an employee - it could be anyone attending your workplace such as customers, suppliers, truckers, etc.
Demonstrating the seriousness of this Act, identified incidents may result in written Orders by Inspectors as well as fines for Individuals up to $25,000 and 1 year in jail and Corporate fines up to $500,000. MOL is holding Employers accountable. As such all Employers must prepare, post and review, at least annually, a written policy. Communication and training with Workers on the policy needs to take place on a regular basis and a sign-off indicating the training has taken place would be a good idea.
This Amendment to the Act also calls for the completion of Risk Assessments. WSIB and the MOL both have model Risk Assessments that you can retrieve from their websites. These Assessments need to take into consideration common risks and requires you to benchmark with others in similar industries. A company needs to identify, deal with and review the risks and it is the employer's responsibility to make sure the Risk Assessment takes place. Once completed, the results must be shared with the JHSC or Representative. Determining those risks may come from speaking and interviewing employees, conducting surveys, developing a GAP list, reviewing past events and so forth in an effort to develop measures to prevent violent occurrences.
Once the Assessments have been completed, a Violence Prevention Program needs to be put in place that sets forth how you control the risks, delegate people for action, investigate issues, etc. This opened up some interesting discussion with our Members on Work Refusal, Domestic Violence, Disclosure of Violent History and Reporting Obligations. The MOL has up to 12 months to charge for an offence. This Amendment fosters a culture of zero tolerance for workplace violence and harassment.
The introduction of stronger flu strains such as H1N1 has certainly raised awareness of the need for Pandemic Planning within our organizations. The impact of contracting a wide-spread flu in our company could result in substantial costs, in sick days and business disruption and certainly have an impact on morale and motivation. From a legislative side, the statutory responsibilities of the employer require you to protect your employees and Pandemic Planning enables you to act in a controlled manner as much as possible when a threat, such as H1N1, hampers your ability to function as a business in a normal way. As Employers, in the interest of the health of your Employees at large, you have the right to prevent someone from coming into your building if they are ill.
Good Pandemic Planning involves the development of:
* Infection Control Policies and Procedures
* Strategies for Effective Communication
* Business Continuity Plans
* Encouraging Due Diligence
The ESA, Labour Relations, Human Rights, OHSA, WSIB and Sick Leave and Employment Insurance can all have a bearing on how those affected are managed.
There are a number of tools available to assist in the development of your Pandemic Plan including EMC's Member Needs Help. The Ontario Ministry of Health & Long Term Care, WSIB, Canadian Centre of Occupational Health & Safety, Public Safety FAQ's and so forth all have some excellent information available as well.
The Government wants to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025 and as such gradual establishment and implementation of accessibility standards are being put in place. The Act will be in force by 2012 so it is a good idea to build in accessibility now. Under the final proposed standard, employers will be required to:
* Provide disability awareness training
* Provide accommodation to potential employees
* Provide job information on essential duties to candidates
* Demonstrate how recruitment process enables candidates with disabilities to receive information about job vacancies.
There are a couple of ESA Amendments to take note of:
* Bill 139 - clarifies the employment relationship between Temp Agencies and Employers
* Bill 154 - new Organ Donor Leave
Wrongful/Constructive Dismissal Update
Our presenters completed our overview with some case studies on Wrongful/Constructive Dismissal and the revised rules of civil procedure designed to improve access to justice beginning in January 2010. Examples relating to Compensation, Privacy and Restrictive Covenants were supplied.
Our Participants echoed their thanks at every session for the wealth of information shared. Our Speakers had some excellent case studies and through experiences from our Members, we had some very good discussion on a number of the issues outlined above.
Hicks Morley (www.hicksmorley.com) has an electronic newsletter and also publishes brief summaries of various legislative matters that you can download as well from the website. We will post the Handouts and Supplementary Information to our WIKI's for your future reference.
Special thanks to the Hicks Morley Team, and to our Hosts - Blommer Chocolate and Nancy Johnston for the Peterborough Event - The City of Vaughan and Martina Kortisova for our Vaughan Session - and everyone at Hartmann Packaging for our gathering in Brantford!
Have a great day!