As previously discussed, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (AODA) is continuously evolving legislation with staggered compliance deadlines. As of January 1, 2013, organizations were required to achieve compliance with the Customer Service Standard, and the emergency response information requirements in the Employment Standard and Information and Communication Standard. This post is intended to address those aspects of the AODA that private or non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees (large organizations) must comply with by January 1, 2014.
Succession and transitional planning is an important and necessary process in any organization, especially where a significant number of employees are nearing retirement. However, employers must be aware of the risks associated with their succession and transition plans, particularly where employees at or near retirement wish to continue working. Cowling v. Alberta Employment and Immigration, a recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta (the Tribunal), serves as a good reminder of those risks.
In a recent decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Court) held that deferred compensation amounts paid to a retired executive employee were properly characterized as employment income and subject to the employer’s tax equalization policy (Hypo-tax Policy), even though the recipient was no longer an employee. (An appeal from the decision of the Court was dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in April 2012.) Under the Hypo-tax Policy, the employer reduced the remuneration paid to eligible expatriate employees to reflect the taxes that would have been payable if the employee were a Canadian resident during the year. This case provides support to employers that maintain tax equalization policies for expatriate employees and continue to apply the policy to payments of deferred compensation made after the employment ceases.
A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court (Court) illustrates complexities that can arise where a pension plan is partially wound up, triggering a requirement to settle surplus entitlements on the partial wind-up, and the surplus subsequently vanishes.
In Kidd v. The Canada Life Assurance Company et al, Canada Life had declared a partial wind-up of the Canada Life Canadian Pension Plan (Plan) in 2003 in relation to members who were terminated or retired as a result of the integration of Canada Life and Great West Life Assurance Company (the Integration Group). The Integration Group had commenced a class to determine, amongst other issues, the ownership of surplus on a partial windup of the Plan. The parties settled the action and under the terms of settlement Canada Life agreed to distribute approximately 70% of the estimated partial wind-up surplus to, amongst others, the Integration Group. The Integration Group members were informed that their estimated share of the surplus was worth approximately $55 million. As part of the settlement, Canada Life would in effect restart its pension plan under a new trust (the Ongoing Plan), which would receive the assets from the wound-up portion of the Plan. The plaintiffs in the class action and Canada Life successfully campaigned to secure the support of the class members for the proposed settlement and the settlement was ultimately approved by the court (the Approved Settlement). Class counsel was to receive approximately $5 million in fees and disbursements under the Approved Settlement.
Depuis le 1er mai 2013, le salaire minimum a été porté à 10,15 $ l’heure. Le taux horaire des employés à pourboire a quant à lui été majoré de 0,20 $ l'heure pour s'établir à 8,75 $. Avec cette hausse, le taux du salaire minimum du Québec demeure parmi les plus élevés parmi les provinces canadiennes.
La ministre a également annoncé certaines modifications à la compensation des travailleurs agricoles. Pour de plus amples renseignements, consultez le site www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca.
Rappelons que le salaire minimum est régi par la Loi sur les normes du travail (la LNT ) et le Règlement sur les normes du travail. Tout salarié visé par la LNT a droit de recevoir un salaire au moins équivalent au salaire minimum pour chaque heure travaillée, incluant les périodes « d’apprentissage », « d’initiation » ou « d’essai ». De plus, le salaire minimum doit être entièrement payé en espèces et aucun avantage ayant une valeur pécuniaire, tel qu’un logement ou accès à un véhicule automobile, ne doit entrer dans le calcul du salaire minimum.
Since May 1st, 2013, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.15 per hour. The hourly wage of employees receiving tips has been increased by $0.20 per hour, bringing it to $8.75. As a result of this increase, Quebec's minimum wage rate is amongst one of the highest among the Canadian provinces.
The Minister also announced certain modifications to the compensation of agricultural workers. For additional information, consult the Board’s website www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca.
It is important to remember that the minimum wage is governed by the Labour Standards Act (the LSA) and the Regulation Respecting Labour Standards. An employee covered by the LSA is entitled to receive wages that are at least equal to the minimum wage for each hour worked, including training, initiation and trial periods. Moreover, the minimum wage must be paid fully and no benefit having pecuniary value may be taken into account in computing the minimum wage, such as lodging or the use of an automobile.
In 2012, Bill 14 (the Workers' Compensation Amendment Act, 2011) introduced amendments to British Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the WCA), to specifically address bullying and harassment in the workplace (see our blog post here). WorkSafeBC, which is tasked with the implementation of the WCA, has now approved three new Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policies (the Policies), which will take effect on November 1, 2013.
The Policies address the general duties of employers, employees, and supervisors regarding preventing and minimizing bullying and harassment in the workplace. WorkSafeBC defines bullying and harassment to include any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.
In a previous post, we discussed a decision which held that, PolyOne Canada Inc. (PolyOne), did not have just cause for terminating a senior employee who committed a safety violation and failed to report it, despite finding that the incident was very serious and could have resulted in harm to the employee. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision, although it disagreed, in part, with the basis for the lower court’s decision.
New Social Security Tribunal (SST) established to hear Employment Insurance appeals begins operations
As of April 1, 2013, Bill C-38 (also known as the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act) modified the Employment Insurance (EI) appeals process. As opposed to the former appeals system, whereby appeals of EI Commission decisions were heard by boards of referees and then subsequently by umpires, appeals will now be heard by the Social Security Tribunal (SST), a new independent administrative tribunal at arm’s length from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).
Employee reinstated, awarded almost 10 years of back pay and other compensation by Ontario Human Rights Tribunal
Over a year after its decision holding the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (the School Board) liable for discriminating against former employee Sharon Fair (Ms. Fair) by failing to accommodate her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminating her employment, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has ordered the School Board to reinstate Ms. Fair and pay her an amount equal to nearly 10 years’ worth of back pay and benefits. The School Board was also ordered to pay $30,000 to Ms. Fair as compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect.