A. Employer Policy Requirements
In order to be legally compliant, employers are required by legislation to create and implement a number of employment policies. The following are required statutory policies for an organization that is commencing work in Ontario:
- a written occupational health and safety policy;
- a policy with respect to work place violence and a program to implement the policy;
- a policy with respect to work place harassment and a program to implement the policy;
- policies governing how the organization achieves or will achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities (customers and employees);
- individualized workplace emergency response information and an individualized accommodation plan for each employee with a disability;
- return to work processes for employees who have been absent from work due to a disability;
- a multi-year accessibility plan describing how the organization will achieve accessibility and compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) and its regulations; and,
- in certain situations, a pay equity plan.
There are a number of policies that employers should create. These policies will help an organization manage employee relations and mitigate the risk of legal liability in the future:
- a general anti-discrimination policy, including the process for responding to discrimination complaints, as employers that do not take positive steps to prevent or address discrimination may face significant liability;
- a discipline policy to address employee misconduct and how your organization will respond to misconduct;
- attendance and leave of absence policies to govern employee expectations for absenteeism and workplace attendance; and
- policies surrounding the use of employer tools (computer and mobile phone use, internet use, social media, physical tools, etc.) to ensure employees are aware of the expectations surrounding their employment.
While not a policy itself, many employers in Canada decide to put all of the foregoing policies and procedures within a unified employee “handbook” that contains all the information every employee would need in the employment relationship. A Canadian employee handbook would help your organization from an operations and a human resources perspective.
There are also certain posting obligations for a number of the policies described above, as well as other statutorily mandated documents that must be posted.
Our firm has prepared precedent policies which can be efficiently modified for your organization.
B. Employee Training Requirements
Employers are required to complete certain training activities. The following is statutorily mandated training that employers must provide:
- train at least one health and safety representative to enable him or her to exercise the powers and perform the duties of that position;
- ensure that all workers complete basic health and safety awareness training;
- provide workers with information and instruction on the contents of the workplace harassment and workplace violence policies and programs;
- if your workplace contains hazardous material, workers must receive training and instruction on the handling of such material;
- ensure that at least one employee is trained in first aid;
- train employees on the policies for interacting with persons with disabilities, and on the general requirements under the AODA and its regulations; and
- provide training on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities.
We have created training modules covering all of these training areas. Training can be offered in person or through webinar.
C. Employment Agreements
In Canada, employers are urged to create written employment agreements for all employees. such agreements are vital as “at will employment” is not a concept recognized in Canadian law. In the absence of employment agreements, the relationship between the employer and employee is governed by the “common law”. Employer common law obligations are often much more onerous than contractual rights under an employment agreement, especially as they relate to employee rights upon termination. Employment agreements are essential to limit the risk of legal liability and financial exposure in operating the employment relationship.
Our firm has prepared thousands of precedent employment agreements. Modifying precedent agreements for your organization will be a critical portion of the project.