Answer ... Employment in all Canadian jurisdictions is regulated by a constellation of statutes, including employment standards legislation, collective bargaining legislation, human rights legislation, occupational health and safety legislation, privacy legislation, employment insurance and social welfare legislation, and workers’ compensation legislation.
Answer ... Statutory sources of labour and employment law supplement contractual terms and conditions of employment and the common law. Generally speaking, employers and employees are free to negotiate terms and conditions of employment. However, contractual terms must be compliant with statutory standards and obligations, which are implied by law into all employment contracts as a matter of public policy. Contracting parties cannot contract out of or under these standards. Courts will find contractual terms which conflict with public policy to be void or unenforceable, and this can have far-reaching consequences for the integrity of the contract as a whole, as well as the liability that can arise in the event of a breach.
Answer ... Employment contracts are commonly used and presumptively enforceable if the basic contract law requirements of offer, acceptance and consideration are satisfied. Employment contracts can be in writing, can be unwritten and concluded orally, or can consist of a combination of written and unwritten terms.
Employers are strongly advised to utilise written contracts of employment in order to pre-empt disputes about employees’ terms and conditions of employment, and in particular about employees’ entitlements to reasonable notice of termination or payment in lieu thereof. Uncertainty about these matters can lead to costly wrongful dismissal claims and litigation.
The rights and obligations arising from employment-related statutes are deemed to be incorporated into every employment contract, whether or not they are reduced to writing in the contract itself. Express contractual terms are also supplemented by common law principles, such as the general duties of loyalty and good faith, and the implied term of common law reasonable notice of termination or payment in lieu.
Special considerations apply in Quebec, where contractual relations and other private law matters are regulated by the civil law as well as the common law. For example, the Quebec Civil Code contains specific provisions on restrictive covenants, the duty of confidentiality, reasonable notice of termination and the tacit renewal of defined-term contracts, which are not similarly codified in other jurisdictions and arise instead from the common law of employment.