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Statutory Complaints

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

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29th Jul 2013

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? more

Work from home? The same rules apply

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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? more

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

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17th Jul 2013

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? more

15th Jul 2013

I have been on maternity leave for about a year. Two weeks before my scheduled return to work, I was informed that, because of some restructuring within the organization, my role is changing and that I have the option to return or take a severance package.

The details of the package were e-mailed to me and the package will be equivalent to around four months of my salary (which I think is generous considering I only joined the company in May, 2011). In terms of the changes to the job should I choose to return, I will require more “technical” skills, but the rest of the requirements are pretty much the same.

Is this legal? more

I love the tales from the workplace trenches – everyday workplace disputes fuelled by misunderstandings, misapprehension of the law, ignorance or worse. Here are questions from three readers of this column, followed by the advice I would provide: more

I am returning to work after a year-long maternity leave, and my company is planning to lay off a significant number of employees in the next two months. I will probably lose my job.

I received a top-up of around $7,000 for my mat leave. I’m required to come back for six months, and if I don’t return of my own choice, I need to pay that back. If I’m fired, can the company still expect me to pay this back? Can they subtract it from my severance pay? And do severance packages always count as insurable time if I need to go on employment insurance? more

I was laid off this summer. After discussing with several lawyers the severance package offered, I was told I deserved more so I contested the offer.

After negotiating various issues, the last offer made to me was ‘taken off the table’ by the employer and the matter deemed ‘closed’ by its lawyer. Can my employer not pay me anything at all because my lawyer and I did not accept the offers they proposed?

I worked with my employer for close to 25 years and was laid off without cause and with no notice due to a change in the company’s business needs. Am I not entitled to the minimum severance offered under employment standards legislation? more

I work for a company and I am currently on a parental leave. The division of the company I work for has since been shut down and I have no job to return to.

Since I am on leave, I heard this news from a colleague at a different company – no one (not even human resources) reached out to me to advise me of the closure. I contacted HR to find out exactly what was going to happen to me. HR advised that most likely no “like positions” would be available to me when I return and I would be given a severance when I do “try” to come back. I was not told the exact dollar figure of the severance, although I think this is important information for me to know.

Shouldn’t the company tell me exact figures of a potential severance package and secondly, shouldn’t they be obligated to provide me a position with a similar salary upon my return? more

More workplace law questions – and answers

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25th Nov 2012

Workplace law never ceases to amaze me — whether employer or employee, one side is always trying to take advantage of the other. Here are some of the more opportunistic questions I was asked this week. Can I fire an employee on maternity leave? Can I fire an employee on disability leave? Can I look for another job while still employed? I work through lunch and my breaks all the time, can I leave work early? My employee claims she worked during her vacation. Must I provide her with extra time off? Overtime – if an employee works late because she is slow at her work, must I pay for that time? more

Wrongful Dismissal – Should you merely adjust to a work adjustment?

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What happens when an employee is told to perform more work for the same pay? Do employers have the right to expect the same level of performance or do employees have the right to refuse the additional work or demand more compensation? According to a recent Ontario case, courts will be sympathetic to employees performing two jobs for the price of one. more