Every now and then, it's worth it for even the most seasoned
HR professional to receive a reminder about best practices in
the workplace. Ensuring compliance with our Top Ten Tips list
below, will help to keep your workplace running smoothly.
Ensure that all employees sign employment agreements
which clarify potential problematic issues up front, such as
entitlements on termination.
If your workplace has any concerns about protecting company
confidential information or intellectual property, ensure that all
employees have also signed some form of Confidential Information
and Intellectual Property Agreement ("IP
Remember that employment agreements and IP Agreements must be
signed on or before an employee's start date. If that
doesn't happen, then the employee should be provided with some
sort of consideration for signing (eg. a signing bonus; a promotion
and salary increase), and the consideration should be specifically
referenced in the agreement(s).
Remember that the law is ever-changing and a good employment
agreement template one year will not necessarily be legally
compliant the next year. An annual legal review of your
employment agreement templates will provide a significant cost
savings to your business in the long run.
If it is important to your business that restrictive covenants
be entered into, ensure that non-competition covenants are not used
where non-solicitation and confidentiality covenants would suffice
to protect the workplace. In addition, ensure that the
covenants are sufficiently narrowly drafted in terms of duration
and jurisdiction so that they will be upheld by the courts.
Provide employees with at least several days to consider any
employment agreements that they are being asked to sign, so that
they may obtain legal advice if they wish.
Ensure that your workplace is up-to-date and compliant with all
of its statutory obligations. In Ontario for example, that
includes ensuring that all employees have undertaken mandatory
Workers and/or Supervisors Health & Safety Awareness Training,
ensuring compliance with the Access to Ontarians with Disabilities
Act (AODA), ensuring compliance with the Pay Equity Act if
applicable, and ensuring that your workplace has posted all
required Employment Standards Act (2000) posters and all required
Occupational Health & Safety Act posters and policies.
In the event of employee disability issues, consider obtaining
legal advice to help you to properly assess and monitor the
situation, so that both your workplace and the employee are
protected and treated fairly.
In the event that an employee must be terminated, ensure that
they are provided with reasonable notice in accordance with the
applicable statute, any applicable employment agreement, or the
common law. Do not seek a release unless the employee has
been offered something more than that which they are entitled
to. Ensure that benefits and vacation pay continue to accrue
through the statutory notice period, and ensure that the Record of
Employment is properly completed and submitted in a timely
Don't hesitate to seek legal advice. Oftentimes, the
biggest problems can be made much smaller if legal counsel is
contacted a reasonable period of time before a potentially
problematic action is taken.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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