I am a lover of lists and a new year is definitely the time for
lists and resolutions. My love of lists and the satisfaction
of deleting completed tasks has been reinforced by a neuroscience
professor who recommends lists to get a more organized and calmer
brain. (The short article and podcast link is: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/01/neuroscientist-really-wants-you-to-make-lists.html.) For
Ontario HR Practitioners who are similarly inclined, here's my
To Do list for 2016.
1.Policies: A number of HR policies
are mandatory and require consideration at least once a
year. This category includes your occupational health and
safety policy, your workplace harassment prevention policy and your
workplace violence prevention policy. Your organization's
accessibility policy and multi-year accessibility plan should also
be reviewed. Given the continued blurring of work and personal
time and activities, reviewing the information technology policy,
particularly for the inclusion of social media expectations, is
strongly encouraged. Changing expectations of employers in the
human rights realm mean that policies specific to accommodation
obligations (to address the expansion of family status) and drug
and alcohol (to address medical marijuana) also should be
2.Training: Compliance with the
mandatory training requirements under the Occupational Health
and Safety Act is all the more essential given the prison
sentence imposed this week on a supervisor responsible for
fatalities that occurred after a scaffolding collapse in
2009. Are you in compliance with all of your AODA training
obligations? When did you last conduct training on workplace
harassment, discrimination and violence prevention? A
refresher may be in order.
3.Contracts: Employment agreements may
require updating, particularly with respect to termination clauses
and restrictive covenants, following court decisions in the past
few years. Where these provisions require updating for
existing employees, do ensure that proper consideration and process
is followed to ensure that any changes are enforceable later.
4.Employment Standards Compliance: The
perennial issues of overtime and vacation pay compliance have
become increasingly important with the removal of the $10,000 cap
on wage awards under the Employment Standards Act,
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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