British Columbia Employer Advisor Blog – Quarterly Review

This is our Quarterly Review, highlighting posts on our British Columbia Employer Advisor blog. Follow the links to any of these specific posts, or visit the blog at where you can sign up to get each new post as it is published. As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

‘Unlike’ – Social Media Gaffes Not Cause To Dismiss Communications Manager
By Christopher McHardy on December 19, 2014

Lack of Warnings about inappropriate online posts was fatal to employer’s case
As more people use social media to communicate in and out of the office, social media posts by employees are increasingly a concern for employers. In a recent case, the International Triathlon Union dismissed its Senior Manager of Communications, Paula Kim, because of negative posts she made on her personal blog and social media accounts. In Kim v. International Triathlon Union, the British Columbia Supreme Court found there was no just cause for her dismissal because she had not been clearly warned that her communications put (...)

Bill To Amend Definition Of ‘Sex’ Under BC Human Rights Code Passes First Reading
By Ryley Mennie on December 11, 2014

Private member’s Bill M 211-2014, titled Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act, passed first reading in the BC Legislature on November 20, 2014. If eventually given royal assent, the bill will amend the definition of ‘sex’ under the Human Rights Code to include “gender identity” and “gender expression”. (...)

Court of Appeal Affirms Employee Has No Duty to Mitigate Contractual Severance – Dismissed employee was entitled to full contractual severance notwithstanding her failure to mitigate
By Donovan Plomp on December 5, 2014

Many employers attempt to define an employee’s right to compensation upon dismissal by having clear, enforceable termination provisions in their employment contracts. But what happens if the dismissed employee is offered re-employment shortly after termination and fails to accept it? Is she still entitled to the full contractual severance amount? (...)

Supreme Court of Canada Gives Quick Win To BCTF On Parental Benefits
By Christopher McHardy on November 27, 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada recently made a rare oral ruling from the bench, giving the B.C. Teachers’ Federation a quick win in their appeal of a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding discrimination and unequal treatment under the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (...)

Holiday Parties – Keep the Season Jolly
By Ryley Mennie on November 20, 2014

Our colleague in Toronto, Melissa Kennedy, recently posted about the joys and legal perils of workplace holiday parties. Her post is an excellent reminder of best practices every employer should undertake to make sure that a holiday party does not lead to less jolly legal consequences. We reproduce Melissa’s post below. (...)

New “Super Union” On The Block – Telecommunications Workers Union and United Steelworkers to Merge in 2015
By Donovan Plomp on November 18, 2014

Since Unifor was created from the merger of Canadian Auto Workers and Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union last year, another merger of unions in Canada has seemed likely. The expectation became the reality on November 7 when the Telecommunications Workers Union voted to merge with the United Steelworkers. The merger will become effective January 1, 2015, but the two unions have announced they will begin joint activities immediately. (...)

Time Off to Vote in Municipal Elections?
By Rosalie Cress on November 12, 2014

Are employers obligated to give employees time off to vote in the general local elections this Saturday, November 15?

The short answer is no. Unlike in provincial and federal elections, there is no statutory obligation under the Local Government Act on employers to provide employees with time off from work to vote in local government or municipal elections. The polls for these elections are open from 8am-8pm, and employees may vote in advance polls or even by mail ballot if they have conflicting commitments on the general voting day. (...)

OH&S Month Part 4: The Loneliest Number? Regulations for Employees Working Alone
By Christopher McHardy on November 7, 2014

Many employees work alone or in isolation, whether from time to time or as a regular part of their work. In addition to an employer’s general statutory obligation to ensure a safe work environment under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have additional specific obligations to protect employees who work alone or in isolation under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (...)

OH&S Month Part 3: Annual Review Of Your Bullying and Harassment Policies
By Donovan Plomp on November 4, 2014

The deadline for compliance with WorkSafeBC’s bullying and harassment policies was last November 1, 2013. We’d like to remind all BC employers that certain obligations under the policies require an annual review. As we discussed in an earlier post, the policies set out nine requirements for employers to meet (...)

OH&S Month Part 2: Unsafe Work Refusals, Now Narrower for Federal Workers
By Ryley Mennie on October 27, 2014

In every jurisdiction in Canada, employees and employers share the responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. In British Columbia, employers are required by the Workers Compensation Act, to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others working at their work place, which includes investigating safety risks and advising employees of same, and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate identified risks. Likewise, employees have obligations to protect their own and others’ health and safety, including reporting fit to work, wearing protective equipment, following safety procedures, and reporting any safety risks. (...)

Introducing Occupational Health & Safety Month!
By Rosalie Cress on October 16, 2014

This month, we introduce a new series focusing on occupational health and safety (OH&S) issues to help employers ensure health and safety in the workplace and avoid penalties under the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (Regulation).

First, do you have a written Occupational Health & Safety program? The Regulation requires that all employers with a workforce of 50 or more workers, or with 20 or more workers in a workplace with a high or moderate risk of injury must have a written OH&S Program. (You can find out your workplace’s assigned hazard rating here.) (...)

How Not To Fill A Labour Shortage - New Challenges for Employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
By Christopher McHardy on October 9, 2014

Since we last posted about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program here and here, the federal government has, in the face of political pressure, introduced significant changes to the program. Employers now face greater challenges and cost in addressing labour shortages through the use of temporary foreign workers (TFWs).

First, employers are now subject to a cap on the proportion of their workforce which can be filled by low wage TFWs. A “low wage” job is any job which pays below the provincial or territorial median wage. Employers with ten or more employees can employ only 10% of their (...)