Don’t I get to choose when to take my vacation?

My wife works at a small company in Ontario, which has less than 10 staff including the owner. She gets two weeks of vacation but she has no say as to when she may take her vacation days. There are 10 statutory holidays and the owner has mandated that the office close on the day before a long weekend and that the day the office is closed be counted as a vacation day for payroll. Is this legal? If it is not, what can my wife do to change this?

Buying a business? Protect yourself from high severance costs

I’m about to purchase another similar business that will effectively double my business. I wish to retain all the staff at the new business and, with the exception of one employee, all have been there short periods (1 to 5 years). There is one person with 20 years’ experience. Obviously, I would inherit the severance liability if I recognized those 20 years (but I am not buying the corporation, just the assets) but the current vendor does not want to “discount” the price of the business by the amount that I have calculated I could be liable for, should that employee not work out. In fairness to the situation, I don’t believe the employee will ever force me to terminate his employment; however, business is business. I need to protect myself.

Work from home? The same rules apply

Few workers get less sympathy than telecommuters. This is because they do not commute at all. However, from a legal perspective, although telecommuters or remote workers may be out of sight, they are not out of mind for employers. They must be treated similar to any other employee, even if the nature of their “workplace” differs considerably. Often this does not occur. What are some of the legal disputes faced by Canadian employers and employees who work remotely?

Why parental leave doesn’t offer an iron-clad job guarantee

It is possibly the biggest controversy in workplace law: Do employers get away with terminating employees on pregnancy or parental leave illegally because of a “loophole” in legislation, or do the additional legal provisions extended to new parents go beyond what is necessary to ensure they are protected? The answer is often a matter of perspective.

Why office romance can be such a tricky business

Office romance can be a tricky business. Whether it’s because of human nature, bad timing or just bad luck, the legal fallout from dating at work is back in the news, making headlines as corporate executives and government officials continue to roll the dice, losing or leaving their jobs because of a workplace relationship gone awry. But office romances between consenting colleagues are not illegal, and there are no statutes or laws against dating anyone at work. So why is there a profound fear of legal liability, and when do employers and the courts have a right to intervene?

What to do when violence erupts in the workplace

These days, violence in the workplace can be a significant liability for employers, in various ways. When Dan Gjema was pushed too far by another employee, he pushed him back – literally. Although it cost Mr. Gjema his job, a Manitoba court found in 2012 that his employer was ultimately to blame.

Think you’re cutting staff costs with a contractor? Think again

It is one of workplace law’s newest phenomena, but it is also often a charade: Employers, happy to unburden themselves from the various costs and liabilities associated with hiring and managing a work force of employees, are increasingly retaining “contractors” to perform much of the same work that their employees did before.

Remember who calls the legal shots at work

Sometimes employees too easily confuse who gets to call the legal shots in the workplace. Believing that their job is an entitlement, they try to take the law into their own hands. But what happens when an employee gets that law wrong?

My job’s in jeopardy and I’m treated as a contractor. What can I do?

My employer has technically classified me as a contractor, but the contract I have is a letter of understanding as opposed to a real contract, and it was signed 12 years ago under another owner. I am sensing a lot of negative actions from my boss and I fear that I am being set up to lose my job. I have suffered mental distress from his weekly harassment. If so, what can I do?

I’ve been bullied, and now I’ve been fired. What do I do?

I have been ignoring the bullying that has happened to me for four-and-a-half years. It came to a halt when I was escorted out of the building like a common criminal. Then they terminated my five-and-a-half year employment, without cause. No one should be subjected to this kind of treatment. I have never had this happen to me before. This is a big black mark on my employment record. What would be my next steps?