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Write Your Own Reference Letter

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:46:34 PDT

When employers and their former employees are trying to settle disputed issues arising out of a termination of employment, there are many monetary factors to address. Perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t always the money which is the stumbling block to reaching a settlement. A very important aspect to any part of a settlement for a departing employee is receiving a reference letter. Often, the employee will insist on getting a reference letter and the employer will be reluctant to provide it.

Ten Policies Every Employer Needs

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 07:57:36 PDT

The range of policies which might be contained in an employee handbook is really unlimited. There are, however, certain core policies every employer should implement. The list starts with a harassment policy. This policy sets out the employer’s stance forbidding workplace harassment (including sexual harassment and other forms, such as bullying). It should also provide a complaint resolution process and define the range of disciplinary measures which may be imposed on the offender.

Controlling Seasonal Party Alcohol Consumption

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 09:46:51 PDT

It’s that time of year when good boys and girls start looking ahead to receiving gifts and their parents anticipate the seasonal office party. Controlling alcohol consumption at those parties substantially increases the odds of parents, and their employer, having a happy and healthy holiday season.

Background Checks Using Social Media Sites

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 08:44:46 PDT

If you’re a person who wants to find information about another person, where better to start your search than online locations such as Facebook, Twitter, or any of two hundred or so other social media sites? And if you’re an employer who wants to find out about a candidate’s background, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the same online sources?

Who's Computer is it Anyway?

Thu, 26 May 2011 09:53:55 PDT

In today’s workplace, many employers provide their staff with electronic devices with which to perform duties. From cellular telephones to laptop computers, these are now tools of the trade for many occupations. Most employers would, I believe, assert that the technology they provide to their employees is the company’s property and is to be used strictly for work-related purposes. The reality of their employee’s use of the employer’s technology may be entirely different.

Too Much, Too Soon or Too Little, Too Late

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 09:33:40 PDT

Few things seem to stir the pot in B.C. as much as discussion about raising the minimum wage rate. Now, it’s much more than a discussion as B.C.’s new premier has instituted a graduated raise in the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $10.25. I’ve read reviews of this long-awaited increase which variously describe it as “too much, too soon” and “too little, too late”. That shows just how polarized parts of the business community and the labour movement are on this topic.

Social Media Law

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 10:49:47 PDT

Can employers use social media in the recruitment process and not break the law? Social media has changed the way companies source, recruit and select new employees. Not only does it offer another opportunity to connect with candidates, it gives access to personal information that was previously not available in the recruitment process. As an employer, what do you do with this information? There have been numerous articles on how candidates can manage their digital footprint, but what advice is there for employers to navigate these unchartered waters?

When Terminating for Cause, Measure Twice and Cut Once

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 08:01:30 PDT

It is a rare employer who is not aware of its employees’ entitlement to reasonable working notice of termination (or pay in lieu thereof). At the same time, it also seems to be a rare employer which has a full grasp of the other costs which can arise upon termination. That is perhaps because most employees who are terminated (on a without cause basis) are owed little more than some pay in lieu of notice at the time of termination. A smaller category of employees has a range of other entitlements and these can be quite valuable.

To Sue or Not to Sue?

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 07:59:36 PDT

Seven in ten HR managers believed that employees are more likely to bring legal action against former employers than they were five years ago, and four out of five think the situation will worsen in the next five years. Most HR managers felt that the courts were more disposed to support the employee, a perception that prompts many companies to settle disputes out of court.

Tug-of-War Over Accommodating Family Status

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 09:57:35 PDT

While it would be foolish to ignore religion, gender, and age as potential grounds for discrimination complaints, employers are presently struggling on another front. So-called “family status” discrimination complaints seem to be the growth area in today’s human rights world. British Columbia, along with other provincial and federal jurisdictions in Canada, prohibits employers from refusing to employ (or otherwise discriminating against) a person regarding employment because of the person’s “family status”. What the vague term, “family status”, means in the employment context is gradually becoming clearer.

Abolishing mandatory retirement poses challenges for employers

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 10:07:52 PDT

In BC, the Premier’s Council on Aging and Seniors’ Issues has recommended the abolishment of mandatory retirement. If put into effect, this recommendation would see the removal of the portions of the BC Human Rights Code preventing persons aged 65 or older from complaining of age discrimination.

Damages For Loss of Career Confirmed

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:39:29 PDT

Followers of court decisions might be forgiven for thinking that large damage awards given by lower courts tend to be overturned by the courts of appeal. This is, in fact, often the case and perhaps that’s the way the system should work (lower courts stretching the boundaries of previous decisions and the higher courts stepping in when the limits have been stretched too far).

Terms of employment | Giving notice to changes to employment terms

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:43:26 PDT

Terms of employment established when an employee starts a job don’t always suit an employer’s later needs. Employers frequently want to change terms of employment.

Length of Tenure Influences Notice Entitlement

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:45:28 PDT

How much notice do employees legally need before you can lay them off? Although many people think two weeks is the legal standard, Canadian common law for employment outlines termination notice in detail.

Onerous Terms Not Necessarily Unconscionable

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:46:19 PDT

Wrongful dismissal cases often lead to debate over the legality of a severance formula set out in an employment contract. In most cases, the former employee argues the severance formula should be disregarded while the employer argues for keeping it.

Restrictive Covenants Subject to Limits

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:47:07 PDT

Restrictive covenants are often utilized by employers to govern the post-employment activities of key employees. The employer seeks to protect itself from damage imposed by former employees engaging in competitive business activities.

Privacy Rules Don't Make The Personnel File An Open Book

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:51:41 PDT

The recent introduction of so-called privacy legislation is having a ripple effect on employers' human resources practices. One of these effects is the now frequent demand by employees to see the contents of their personnel file.

Application Forms Are Useful Screening Tools

Tue, 29 May 2007 15:24:40 PDT

The application form is an under-utilized tool for screening out undesirable applicants. Many employers treat it as a way to obtain contact information for the applicant and little more.

Probation Period is an Effective Screening Tool

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:52:54 PDT

Perhaps the best weapon in an employer’s arsenal to screen applicants is the probation period. In my experience, it is also one of the least used and least understood.

Use The Proper Method For Offering Employment

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:53:40 PDT

The moment of offering employment is one of the most important in the employment relationship. It is also one of the most poorly utilized by employers.

When Is A Quit Not A Quit?

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:54:25 PDT

I suspect that most employers struggle, occasionally, with the question of whether an employee has resigned from employment. I know that I am often called on to provide advice on this subject.

Employers Should Step Lightly In Restricting Offices Romances

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:55:14 PDT

As surely as the sun will rise each day, employees will form personal relationships with co-workers. Some employers frown on such relationships and attempt to take preventative steps. The degree to which the employer can lawfully intervene to restrict such relationships, however, is limited.

Employee or independent contractor?

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:56:42 PDT

Your organization could wind up with a huge financial liability if you’ve mislabelled employees as contractors. Find out your legal obligations and the respective status of both groups.

Hiring older workers – a legal perspective

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:57:38 PDT

Hiring older workers seems to be part of an employer bandwagon. The shiny, new era of the elimination of mandatory retirement policies in British Columbia is but a few weeks old. That legal change seems to have come at an opportune moment for older workers.

Restrictive covenants face uncertain interpretation

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 15:58:33 PDT

Restrictive covenants can be tricky. Most of the difficult issues in employment law have been ironed out by the courts. That is the inevitable effect of hundreds of decisions by judges every year touching on all aspects of the employment relationship.

Employers and Employees can Weather the Storm

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 12:10:54 PDT

I’m not a fan of the phrase, “economic meltdown”. It’s an exaggeration of the negative aspects of the current economic climate and, in Chicken Little fashion, ignores all the positives.

Banish the Performance Review?

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 10:22:43 PDT

Samuel Culbert is a professor of management at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles. Culbert recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Get Rid of the Performance Review!”.

Managing The Risk of Constructive Dismissal

Thu, 21 May 2009 10:49:20 PDT

In this period of economic decline, many employers are faced with the need to restructure their workforce. Unfortunately, imposing unilateral changes upon employees raises the risk of constructive dismissal claims.


Mon, 20 Jul 2009 12:09:09 PDT

When it comes to the workplace, it’s fair to say the employer has the authority to take some liberties in monitoring the activities of employees. According to an Ontario judge, surreptitiously spying on a manager isn’t one of them.

Getting Employees Off The Telephone

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 07:34:45 PDT

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has reported that, at the time of a recent mid-air collision between an airplane and a helicopter, the air traffic controller was making a personal telephone call. The crash killed nine people and is an example of what can happen when an employee is engaged in personal business rather than focused on work duties.

Sorting Through Annual Pay Increase Projections

Tue, 22 Sep 2009 10:31:05 PDT

As surely as kids heading back to school and Christmas decorations appearing (too early) in stores, September brings annual projections of pay increases for the following year. These projections can – if used in a considered fashion - be a useful guideline as your business approaches its yearly pay review process.


Fri, 18 Dec 2009 14:00:27 PDT

The recent Report Following a Public Interest Investigation respecting the death of Robert Dziekanski relied heavily on video evidence produced by a bystander. I’m thinking employers should get accustomed to facing such evidence of the actions of their staff.

New Year's Resolutions for Human Resources

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 09:19:25 PDT

Now that we’re into the first January of a new decade, it’s as good a time as any to assess how we perform our jobs on a day-to-day basis. Human resources managers are no different, and here are my five suggestions of things they might consider trying in 2010.

No Pint of Beer at Lunch for You

Mon, 26 Apr 2010 09:58:59 PDT

According a recent article by Randy Shore, published in the Vancouver Sun, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has implemented a policy banning consumption of alcohol by employees during the work day. Unfortunately for ICBC, its work day includes a lunch period for which employees are not paid.

Technology's Impact on the Employment Relationship

Thu, 27 May 2010 07:28:39 PDT

A waitress in North Carolina recently found herself looking for work after posting a complaint about customers on her Facebook page. This is just the latest example of the increasing impact of technology on the employment relationship.

How Long Have You Worked Here?

Tue, 24 Aug 2010 07:42:41 PDT

Our common law of wrongful dismissal establishes most employees’ entitlement to notice of termination (or pay in lieu) based, primarily, on the employee’s tenure. What some employers don’t know is that a court may regard that tenure as continuous through one or more breaks in service.

Five things managers need to know

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 09:57:18 PDT

Employers commonly give department managers the authority to make employment-related decisions for their own staff. Even when a company has an in-house human resources expert, decisions with legal implications may be made at the department level. But department managers typically will not be fully trained in employment law. So, are there some basic concepts they can learn which will give their company the prospect of avoiding legal complaints?

An End To Workforce Bullying And Harrassment - One Step Closer In British Columbia

Wed, 23 May 2012 13:22:14 PDT

There was recently an article in the Vancouver Sun (May 3, 2012) referring to the BC Government being ready to take action against bullying and harassment in the workplace. And just how does the Government intend to do this?

Handle Workplace Investigations with Care

Thu, 31 May 2012 08:36:13 PDT

Even with the best of intentions, we can make errors in workplace investigations that are very costly not only in directly visible ways, but also through indirect costs such as organizational reputation, employee morale and of course, turnover.