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Employment Landscape: A Brief Update and Trends to Watch

March 30, 2023

Businesses continue to face disruptive changes in the workplace post-COVID-19. From hybrid working arrangements to recruitment and retention issues, employers have had to adjust quickly to evolving employee expectations about work-life balance and the emergence of new legislation, among other issues.

Below are key updates and trends that employers should be aware of:

  1. New Work Policies. Ontario's Employment Standards Act was amended in 2022 to require employers with 25 or more employees to have two new policies in place by the end of 2022: a policy on disconnecting from work and a policy on electronic monitoring of employees.

  2. French Language Charter. Quebec's Charter of the French Language was updated in 2022 to clarify an employer’s obligations about providing workplace written communications and documentation in French. Providing English-only documents is subject to few and limited exceptions. Also, unless it can be justified as a necessity, employers are prohibited from requiring job seekers to have knowledge of another language other than French.

  3. B.C. Labour Code. In 2022, British Columbia changed its Labour Relations Code to allow automatic union certification if 55% or more employees sign union membership cards. This means that there can be little opportunity for employers to respond to union drives, as voting on union certification is no longer required where this 55% threshold has been crossed.

  4. Enforceability of Termination Provisions. A significant number of termination provisions in employment agreements were found by courts to be unenforceable in 2022. Despite this, employment agreements continue to be an important tool to set expectations between parties should the employment relationship end. We recommend organizations regularly review their termination provisions to make sure they adhere to current laws.

  5. Employee Time Theft. In January 2023, an interesting decision came out of B.C. giving employers insight into how remote-work disciplinary processes may turn out. An employee who falsified the hours they had worked on a time-tracking device was fired for theft of time and ordered to repay the employer C$1,500. It will be interesting to see if this case indicates a future trend in this direction.

Have more than five minutes? Contact any member of the Employment & Labour group to learn more or view our recent webinar on these topics.