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  • Ex-Klinec Manufacturing Workers Fight for Termination Pay

    Ex-Klinec Workers and community allies rally to demand payment!

    Background:

    In August 2012 workers at Klinec Manufacturing were informed they would have a $3 per hour wage cut imposed, from $13.80 to the minimum wage of $10.25. The non-unionized workers walked off the job in response. The workers identified violations of health and safety rules, inconsistent shifts, a general climate of disrespect and harassment, no benefits, and no washroom supplies and so on.

    Members of the CAW, Windsor Workers’ Action Centre, neighbours, and other community allies rallied with the workers and attempted to negotiate with the employer. He refused to make any concessions and approximately 20 workers resigned from the company.

    Why we are here today:

    The workers filed claims with the Ministry of Labour for termination pay under the Employment Standards Act. In the fall of 2012 the Ministry determined that the reduction in pay constituted constructive dismissal under the Act and issued orders to pay in various amounts depending on the length of employment. The owner, Paul Klinec, has refused to even acknowledge the claims and has been given ample time by the Ministry to comply.

    The workers, owed literally tens of thousands of dollars, have again rallied at the Klinec Manufacturing plant with community allies to demand payment of money owed. We are calling on the owner to do the right thing and pay the workers termination pay as ordered by the Ministry of Labour and for the Ministry of Labour to more aggressively pursue these claims. 

    Precarious work and vulnerable workers backgrounder: Paul Chislett

    A recent interim report by the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO), Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work found that precarious work can be defined as that which includes “… low income, little control over the labour process and limited access to regulatory protections”; and, as well, researchers mentioned in the report adopted four indicators of precarious work: “… low income (defined as less than 1.5 times the minimum wage), no pension plan, small-sized firm and no union coverage.” (p.13) The workers at this plant, past and present, meet the criteria set out in the law commission report as vulnerable workers in precarious work.

    On page 9 of the report, vulnerable workers are described as “… those who whose work can be described as “precarious’ and whose vulnerability is underlined by their “social location” (that is, by their ethnicity, sex, ability, and immigration status”; …[t]herefore, vulnerability in this context refers not to the workers themselves but to the situation facing them, both in their work environment and in other aspects of their lives such as their health, their families, their ability to participate in their community and their integration into Ontario life.” Precarious work is global in scope and “…workers at the lower end of the wage and skill spectrum are struggling in insecure employment to make a decent wage.” (p. 9)

    The former Klinec workers’ experiences in this workplace define in real life terms what the law commission report is describing. Having left this workplace, described in the attached media release, fair treatment continues to elude these workers as they wait for termination pay ordered by the Ministry of Labour. The LCO recommends, on p. 63 of its report that the “Ontario government ensure adequate resources for [Employment Standards Act] compliance and enforcement, with a particular emphasis on proactive enforcement.”

     

    Source: http://wwac.ca/march-21-2013-ex-klinec-fight-for-termination-pay/

     

     

     

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  • Enjoy a Lunch Break!

    Does your lunch break involve grabbing a quick snack while you check your email, messages, or go through your paperwork? It is important to stop for your lunch break, stretch and even possibly get some fresh air. Leaving your desk for even just a half an hour will revitalize, increase your energy and allow you to tackle the afternoon ahead.

    If you find it hard to take time out in your day for a lunch break, try starting out with a break 3 days out of the next couple of weeks, you will start to see the benefits of taking some time away from your desk, even if it is just as simple as talking to one of your colleagues about a project you are working on. Most ideas come to a person when they are relaxed, especially during lunch time when people engage in discussions with others. So taking a step away from your desk might even help you to solve a persistent problem you might have, try it out and see!

    It is important throughout the day to try and take even a quick break or time for yourself, it will help to refresh and relax your body and mind and you might even be surprised to find that your productivity levels will increase in the afternoon hours, so go ahead, take a break!

    Source: http://www.hrandequity/about-hr-equity/health/ear/E/tbtlb.htm

     

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  • BENEFITS OF TAKING A LUNCH BREAK!

    Most of us rush through lunch. We might have a sandwich at our desk or grab a quick salad with a colleague. Or perhaps we skip lunch altogether. After all, breakfast is widely regarded as the most important meal of the day. Dinner is often the most enjoyable. Lunch seems to get the short end of the stick.

    But in the long run a ‘real’ lunch break could actually make you more productive throughout your workday. A lunch break gives your mind a chance to relax; so that once you are done you can focus 100 percent on your work. Taking time for lunch also allows you to focus on your food and really enjoy your meal. This in turn can make you feel more full and satisfied and prevent binging or stress eating throughout the day. For overall health reasons this is very beneficial! However, it is important to remember that when you do take a lunch break, it helps to move away from your desk and phone and possibly sit at a table and eat your meal. The idea of a lunch break is to take some mental ‘downtime’ to let yourself recharge and refocus, this could involve eating, taking a short walk or even reading a book. Either way, it is important to take a bit of time for yourself so that you can come back to work refreshed and ready to take on your tasks with ease and efficiency!

     

    Further information regarding Meal Breaks:

     

    Employment Standards for Eating Periods – Ontario Ministry of Labour

    Most employees are entitled to an eating period during their shift. The length and timing of the eating period (meal break) is somewhat flexible, recognizing work demands. Meal breaks, whether paid or unpaid, are not considered working time and are therefore not counted toward the limits on hours of work, overtime pay or minimum wage.

    An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period free from work. However, you and your employee can agree that the eating period can be split into two periods within every five consecutive hours. Together, these periods must total a minimum of 30 minutes. This agreement can be verbal or in writing.

    Meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee's employment contract requires payment. Even if the employer pays for meal breaks, the employee must be free from work during the eating period.  

    Non-Eating Period Breaks

    There is no requirement to give your employees coffee breaks or any other kind of break other than eating periods.

    Time spent by an employee on a coffee break or other non-eating period break during which he or she is required to remain at the workplace is considered to be working time under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). If the employee is free to leave the workplace during the coffee break or other type of break, it is not considered to be working time.

    Source: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca

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  • Healthy and Helpful Tips to Beat the Winter Blues!

    The winter season makes it hard for all of us to be motivated! The days get shorter, the air outside is colder, and blizzards and snow storms force us to bundle up before we leave the house. Most of us would just like to stay inside; warm and comfy and let the winter pass us by. But, unfortunately for many of us this is not an option. So the following are some helpful tips to make it through those winter months a little happier!

     

    Keep Moving – Staying active all year long, especially through the winter, will help keep your spirits up. Exercising regularly will help reduce your stress and give you more energy throughout the day.

     

    Eat Well – In the winter months it is easy to feel down or a little sad, this can leave us craving comfort foods to help brighten our day. No one is saying not to indulge yourself every once in a while, but it is important to do so in moderation. Remember to eat balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This will help give your body the minerals and vitamins it needs to keep feeling great!

     

    Enjoy Some Light – With shorter days and unpleasant weather most of us find ourselves travelling in less daylight or staying indoors. Spending several months inside or surrounded by less daylight can be very hard. So, bundle up! Take a walk with your kids or dog, spending time in the fresh air can really pay off and lift that gloomy mood you’ve been having.

     

    Stay Hydrated – Most of us feel it is important to drink a lot of water when the weather is hot! But the cold winter weather and heated rooms can be very dry. Try to keep a bottle of water with you to sip on during the day and drink a glass of water at every meal.

     

    The winter months can be hard on us all, but hopefully these few suggestions make it a little more bearable and allow us to look forward to the coming months!

     

     

     

    http://www.mystepbystep.org

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  • Celebrating Diversity through the Holiday Season

    Lunch is an important part of everyone’s work day and most of us plan ahead to make the most of our limited time. We pack our lunch, meet friends, buy food or even skip our lunch to meet deadlines. So here’s an idea … why not make lunch an enjoyable part of your work day routine this holiday season and maybe even incorporate some cultural diversity into the mix? A simple and fun way to do this is to arrange a potluck lunch day or days that features dishes from other cultures that everyone can sample and enjoy.

    All of us at HR Performance and Results are ringing in the holiday season and celebrating diversity this month with different cultural foods. Everyone picked a day in December to bring a dish to work that they traditionally make or eat at home to share with coworkers during lunch. This is a really great way to get together, talk about the holidays, experience and share a delicious lunch with everyone before the New Year! To see pictures and read about our diversity potluck throughout the month of December just follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter we will be sampling some very delicious foods! Our first lunch was Thai, stay tuned for more …

    There are a number of ways that companies can celebrate and promote diversity in the workplace. The main idea is to support and embrace employees and their cultural differences and not just for a day or month but all year round!

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  • Workplace Diversity

    Diversity can have many meanings, but essentially it can be defined as the difference between people. Having a diverse workplace adds value to an organization by allowing workers to approach their jobs from different perspectives. It is important that workplaces and employers recognize the need for diversity and try to implement ways to create and maintain a diverse working environment.

    Diversity in the workplace has gained a lot of attention, especially by policy makers. However, employers and organizations are still faced with challenges around trying to create and manage diversity. Diversity does not necessarily just mean cultural differences; it could also be differences in physical and mental capabilities, gender, work experience and age.

    When you have people with different backgrounds interacting together, it is a possibility that misunderstandings can occur. Therefore, it is essential that organizations are aware of this and try to create and implement a working environment that encourages diversification.

     

    Efforts to create and maintain diversity in the workplace can give employers an advantage to obtain quality workers and preserve their loyalty. By increasing communication and offering cross cultural training and development it can help both employers and employees to manage diverse relationships. But in the end, an organization needs the involvement of everyone within to support workplace diversity and differences!

     

    Source: http://smallbusiness.chron.com

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  • Getting Back into Work Mode After Summer!

    Children are going back to school, weather is getting colder, traffic is getting heavier in the mornings and we all know what these signs mean……the summer vacation season is coming to a close. No shorter work weeks or relaxed hours, those projects and deadlines that lightened up in the months of July and August are now starting to receive attention and urgency.

    Although it may feel difficult or near to impossible to get back into the swing of things at work and make progress, here are a few ways to help you get back into the mindset after the summer holidays.

    1.       Prepare yourself mentally a little bit each day before you go back to work. Although it is important for you to enjoy your time away from work it is also helpful to tell yourself, time to time, that you have to go back to work. This will help alleviate the feeling that returning to regular working hours has crept up out of nowhere.

     

     

     

    2.       Start your work as soon as you get into the office. Although you may be tempted to procrastinate, it will not help you get things done and it definitely will not help you get back in the work mindset. As soon as you get into the office go straight to your desk and start work, the longer it takes to get started, the longer it may take to get into work mode.

     

     

     

    3.       Conquer your work task by task. You might feel like diving into you assignments all at once, but try doing them little by little. The process might help ease you back into the work mindset instead of getting swamped with tasks.

     

     

     

    4.       Try to avoid visiting any social networking sites or conversing with coworkers about summer activities or holidays during work hours. This might be difficult, but it is possible! Chatting and reminiscing with coworkers about the summer can prevent you from getting work done, making you feel like you are still in the summer mode of things. This can make it hard to get back into your work routine. Leave the summer socializing until after work hours and get your mind back on track.

     

     

    Although it might be challenging to let go of the summer camping trips, cottage visits, swimming or whatever fun and exciting adventures you took part in over the last few months. The seasons to come bring may good times along with them to look forward to, and on the bright side, next summer is just around the corner and will be here before you know it!

     

      

     

    Source: http://www.ehow.com/how_4672008_back-work-mindset-after-holidays.html

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Wrongful Dismissal-Burns Lake Case

    This month the focus is on Wrongful Dismissal. The following case example from a sawmill in Burns Lake, B.C is an effective illustration on how not to get rid of an employee in ways that try to avoid dismissal obligations, and the repercussions that could arise from not obliging to termination procedures.  

     Case Summary:  

     Larry Higginson worked at a sawmill in Burns Lake, B.C., for 34 years until October 2009, when he was fired without severance pay. Hampton Lumber Mills Inc., based in Portland, Ore., had acquired the sawmill from Babine Forest Products Inc. in November 2006.Higginson sued for wrongful dismissal, claiming he was terminated as an attempt to avoid paying severance to long-term employees. The companies, joint defendants in Higginson v. Babine Forest Products Ltd., argued they had just cause for dismissal. Murray Tevlin, a senior lawyer at Vancouver employment law firm TevlinGleadle, which represented Higginson in the case, says, “Instead of just firing him after 34 years of faithful service, [the companies] made up a false allegation of cause for dismissal, [which] means that the employee has committed a fundamental breach of the employment contract by doing some outrageous act.” Tevlin also says that before this “bogus allegation of cause,” the companies tried to make Higginson’s job miserable in order to cause him to quit. The firm also gave evidence that the companies were implementing an institutional scheme to avoid paying severance to other employees, he says.

     Following a three-week trial, the jury decided that there was no cause for dismissal and awarded Higginson $236,000 in compensatory damages for wrongful dismissal and $573,000 in punitive damages for the companies’ conduct in terminating him.

     In relation to the sawmill case the employer attempted to make the employee’s life difficult so that he would quit and even went as far as trying to create just cause for dismissal where none existed. In the end the company’s actions cost them more money than if they had provided Higginson with notice or payment in lieu of.

     

    If an employer wishes to terminate an employee they should assent to all the obligations of dismissal with just cause, instead of trying to create a situation where none exists as a means to terminate an employee. Employers have an obligation to act in good faith and fairly deal with an employee in the manner by which it terminates the employment of an employee.  

     http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/977/B.C.-court-awards-largest-punitive-damages-ever-in-employment-case.html

     http://www.hrreporter.com/blog/Canadian-HR-Law/archive/2012/08/08/scheming-to-get-rid-of-a-worker-costs-employer-nearly-%241-million

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  • Young and New Worker Safety

    May 6-12th is North American Occupational Health & Safety Week.  May also marks the start of the summer working season for new and young workers.  Many of these jobs are in the construction, labourers and manufacturing fields. 

    Young workers (under 25) face a greater than average risk of injury than more seasoned workers.  This is also true for new workers—workers of any age who have been on the job less than 6 months or have been reassigned.  New and young workers in Ontario are four times more likely to be injured on the job during the first month of employment than any other time.

    Between 2006 and 2010, 34 young workers aged 15-24 died in work-related incidents.  The highest number of lost-time-at-work claims for on-the-job injuries involved young workers employed in occupations such as sales and service, transport/equipment operators and labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities. 

    Since the launch of Safe At Work Ontario in June 2008, the province’s team of more than 400 health and safety inspectors conducted more than 160,000 proactive and 66,000 reactive field visits, issued more than 360,000 compliance orders and conducted 25 proactive inspection blitzes.  The problems encountered during these blitzes included lack of training, orientation and supervision, lack of personal protective equipment, and improper use of fall protection. 

    Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect workers, ensure workers meet the minimum age requirements, ensure that equipment, materials and protective devices are well maintained and used as per manufacturer’s instructions, ensure workers are provided with appropriate training, supervision and personal protective equipment, prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy.  Employers also must have a copy of the Ontario Health & Safety Act posted in the workplace.

    Under the OHS Act, workers have duties as well.  Workers must be aware of potential hazards, be trained in safe practices and procedures, work in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations, report any known workplace hazards or contraventions of the OHSA to their supervisor or employer, and must be aware of workers’ rights under the OHSA, such as the right to refuse unsafe work!

    Make safety a priority this summer!

     

     http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_youngworkers.php

    http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/blitzes/blitz_report20.php

    http://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2012/04/helping-to-protect-new-and-young-workers.html

     

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  • What Can Workplaces Do to Support Mental Health?

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates that mental health conditions are responsible for approximately 30% of all disability claims and 70% of associated plan costs.  Employers are focused on getting employees dealing with mental health issues back to work as quickly as possible and in a state where they can fulfill their positions.  Employers deal with the cost and the lost productivity of having employees off from work.  Getting employees back to work requires three steps:  early identification of mental health concerns, an effective treatment plan and a return to work strategy.  Employers need to be respectful and supportive before, during and after the employee is identified as having trouble with mental health. 

    Employees in a supervisory role who are in close contact with employees on a daily basis start to understand their employees’ personality.  Supervisors, with training, are positioned to identify changes in employee behaviour that may signal the onset of mental health concerns. 

    A great way to achieve a psychologically safe workplace is to create and implement a Comprehensive Workplace Health and Safety (CWHS) Program.  This can improve or maintain working life, health and the well-being of employees.  The CWHS Program is a series of strategies, related activities, initiatives and policies developed by the employer in consultation with the employees.  It results in improved creativity, employee cooperation and engagement, retention, loyalty to the organization, morale and employee satisfaction and productivity.  IT results in reduced absenteeism, employee turnover, recruitment and retraining costs, health costs, injuries and accidents, as well as lost work time.

    Employers should bear in mind that the trend in workers’ compensation is no longer limited to just physical injuries.  Mental health is just as important to well-being, so having the right programs and support in place minimizes insurance premiums and compensation to be paid out. 

    Source: http://www.ccohs.ca/healthyminds/promoting/what.html

    Source: http://www.hrreporter.com/articleview/12211-ontario-could-see-spike-in-mental-stress-claims

    Source: http://www.benefitscanada.com/benefits/health-wellness/handling-mental-illness-in-the-workplace-26345?utm_source=Exacttarget&utm_medium=HRPADaily&utm_term=Membership&utm_content=Email&utm_campaign=membership031412

     

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  • The AODA is now in effect!

    Did your organization meet the January 1st, 2012 AODA compliance deadline? If not, let us help you comply. Check out our program under the Training & Development tab.

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  • 12 days left to comply with the AODA!

    12 days left to comply with the AODA! Have you taken a look at our training program? We can help your business with complying every step of the way!

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  • AODA - There is still time left to comply!

    Does your organization provide goods or services?

    If you answered yes, and your organization has more than 1 employee, you must comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 - Customer Service Standard that comes into effect January 1st, 2012.

    The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was created to provide accessibility for all Ontarians with a disability.

    What are the key compliance requirements and how can HR Performance & Results help you?

    • Develop and implement policies, practices, and procedures
    • Train staff on how to interact and communicate with people with disabilites

    What are the potential consequences for non-compliance?

    • Administrative penalites (ordinarily up to $2k for individual and $15k for company but can be higher)

    Prosecutions for committing offence under AODA:

    • Max $50, 000 fine per day per person (includes Directors and Officers)
    • Max $100, 000 fine per day for a corporation
    • Duty on Directors and Officers to take reasonable care to prevent organization from committing an offence under the AODA

    There is still time left to comply! Be proactive and get a head start! Let us help you meet the requirements.

    Remember: You're not alone - we are here for you every step of the way!

    Contact us today for further information about our program or visit AODA: Accessibility Standards for Customer Service & Integrated Standards for more information about our training program.

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  • Growing your business through accessibility

    Neil Young is a pharmacist and one of the owners of Young's Pharmacy, a family-owned business in Georgetown, Ontario. In 2006, Young's Pharmacy won two of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Area's (TABIA) Ontario Mainstreet Achievement Awards in the categories of Customer Service and Employment.

    Although the business has changed hands over the years, Young's Pharmacy has been serving customers in Southern Ontario since 1853. And, for this business, the key to their longevity simply comes down to quality customer service for everyone. Young says that the question they're always asking themselves is, "what can we do to make it easier for you to do business with us?"

    The pharmacy moved to their current Georgetown location in 1992. At that time, they installed a ramp and automatic doors at the entrance as well as an accessible washroom for customers. They do their best to keep their aisles wide and clear. And they have a nurse on staff who makes house calls for customers with disabilities who can't get out to the pharmacy.

    When asked if he's seen a return on the investment into the accessibility accommodations, Young says that it's difficult to determine what the dollar benefit might have been to the business. But he does note that the business has grown substantially since moving to the current location.

    Young's Pharmacy also won the TABIA award in the Employment category. In the last few years they have hired a few employees with mental health disabilities. Young points out that, "we do our best to stretch to accommodate the people that we can."

    Accessibility is a good investment for any business. It brings more customers through the door, encourages more tourists to visit Ontario, and removes barriers that keep skilled employees out of workplaces.

    Sourced: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/about/stories/youngs_pharmacy.aspx

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  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

    By January 1st 2025, under the Ontario government’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 the province of Ontario will be accessible to all residents. The purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises.

    Under the Act, “disability” means

    (a)  Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes,mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury,any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

    (b)  A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

     

    (c)  A learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,                     

    (d)  A mental disorder, or                 

    (e)  An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

     Customer service organizations in the public sector were required to comply on January 12th, 2010. Private sectors must comply by January 12th, 2012. All organizations with more than one employee must comply with its requirements and all organizations with more than 20 employees must submit a report annually on compliance activities by completing an accessibility form by the government. For more information, please visit http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/index.aspx and www.accesson.ca

     

     

     

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  • How Can Social Media Impact your Recruitment Strategy?

    The Job Board’s Future

    Job boards are still part of most employers’ recruiting plans, but for companies like Compass Group Canada and Mobilicity, they are increasingly less important tools. Ricci says only seven to eight per cent of its hires come directly from job boards. Mobilicity still posts jobs to get the word out, because they find prospects peruse the job boards to see what’s available then turn to social media to find a connection that can put them in touch with the company.

    According to Michael Mahoney, senior marketing coordinator at Drake International, a talent management solution provider in Toronto, job boards will have to evolve with the times if they hope to continue to be a part of companies’ recruitment strategies in the future. “Thanks to social media, job boards are becoming like the newspaper classifieds, the medium they’ve mostly replaced.” The minimum job boards need to be doing is getting involved with social interaction on Twitter and Facebook, he says.

    Andrea Garson, vice-president of HR at Workopolis, says that internal research shows that 86 per cent of job seekers still readily use job boards to look for work. That being said she adds, “There is an opportunity for the leading job boards to embrace social media as a way to expand the online presence for employers beyond just their own website, so they can access their candidates more readily.” We have to think more like marketers, she adds: how can we pull and push people to social media to learn about a company? In that vein, Workopolis recently launched an employer-brand optimizer, which allows employers to showcase their employer “story” on Workopolis, which can then be linked back to the employer’s website and social media pages.

     

    How Can Social Media Impact your Recruitment Strategy?

     

    1.    You’ll find qualified leads faster than ever.

    2.    You’ll have more control over your recruiting.

    3.    You’ll create a pool of talent you can tap into later.

    4.    You’ll have more control over your employer brand.

    5.    You’ll have more validation in your decision-making.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     Sourced: HR Professional Magazine

     

     

     

     

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  • Employer Strategies and Responses to ‘External’ Employee Communication

    Social Networking Websites

    Websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and personal blogs have presented new workplace issues for employers in terms of communications to third parties. Some of the issues are in relation to breach of confidentiality, insubordination, damage to the employer’s reputation, defamation, and vicarious liability to the employer for inappropriate content that has been posted by an employee.

    A number of social networking websites encourage participants to disclose personal information about themselves, including the identity of their employer, their jobs, and the manner in which their jobs are performed. There have been countless examples of cases in which employees have disclosed confidential information about the employer, customers/clients, and even other employees (managerial and non-managerial).

    An employee who makes improper disclosure of customer identities, customer buying habits, patient diagnoses, price lists, marketing/business strategies, target markets, passwords to workplace systems, financial information, for example, can seriously prejudice the employer and the viability of the enterprise.

    It is imperative that workplace policies be developed in order to address Internet communications to third parties, about the employer and its workplace. There must be considerable emphasis placed upon employees’ confidentiality obligations. Orientation/education should ideally be provided to employees to ensures that they clearly understand the obligation and the fact that a breach could lead to immediate discharge and even possible legal proceedings.

    Employees who are privy to sensitive, confidential information, including client information, marketing information, pricing, or proprietary information that is not in the public domain (inventions, creations, etc.) should be required to sign “non-disclosure agreements” which further emphasize the prejudice and the damages that could be suffered by the employer in the event that improper disclosure were made (directly or indirectly).

    There have been cases in which employees have communicated disparaging information in relation to the employer’s managerial personnel, and/or to the employer generally on both blogs and social networking websites. Once such information has been posted, it becomes accessible to other employees, friends and family of the employee, and possibly to competitors. The dissemination of such information has the potential to adversely affect the employer’s reputation and the ability of its management to properly manage operations.

    Depending upon the content of what is posted, the communication of such information can constitute insolence or insubordination even though the communications take place outside of an employee’s regular hours of work. If the employer can demonstrate that there is a connection between the conduct in question and the employee’s place of work, the employee can be disciplined if not terminated.

    In a recent decision of the British Columbia Labour Relations Board, the Board found that an employer had just cause to terminate two employees who posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the employer and other employees. The terminated employees argued that their terminations constituted a response to the employees’ support of a union organizing drive. The Board rejected this argument and also dismissed privacy related claims by the dismissed employees because of the large number of Facebook friends (including other employees) that they each had on their Facebook page.

    Employees must be educated and made to understand that postings on blogs, e-mails, and on social networks are not “private” and have the potential to be redistributed to other third parties over which the employee has no control. A simple “Google search” of the victims name will quickly disclose inappropriate communications that have been disseminated. As such, the risk of prejudice and economic harm to the employer that results from the initial communication is exacerbated.

     

    Blogs

    “Blogging” is the term that is used in describing a website at which people can post their personal thoughts, views and opinions. Blogs have become a very popular means by which individuals can communicate with the outside world. Google’s “Blogger.com” site attracts more than 15 million visitors each month –  more than many newspaper websites attract. As such, a blog can attract a considerable following of readers.

    From an employer’s perspective, the concern with blogs is that they may disclose confidential information that should not be revealed. Disgruntled employees can use blogs to protest their workplace, other employees, managers, and the employer’s enterprise generally. The unfortunate part is that a comment on a blog can leave a permanent “footprint” for others to see.

     If an employer learns of an inappropriate blog communication that adversely affects the enterprise, there are a number of strategic responses that can be pursued. A response can be posted by the employer on the website which accurately sets out the employer’s position and which also puts the blogger and anyone else who disseminates the inappropriate blog on notice that a legal proceeding may be commenced.

    While an employer cannot prevent employees from blogging, the employer can establish reasonable parameters within which an employee may blog without engaging in employment misconduct. Once again, it is imperative that an employer establish clear policies with respect to Internet blogging communications and such policies should indicate that employees may be subject to discipline and/or legal proceedings in the event that they post damaging/prejudicial material on a blog.

    Blogs, regardless of whether they are prepared on or off company time may attract discipline. If an employee’s misconduct occurs outside of work time but yet detrimentally affects the employer’s reputation, or if the misconduct renders the employee unable to effectively perform his/her employment duties, or if it causes other employees to refuse to work with that person, or if the employee’s off duty misconduct inhibits the employer’s ability to manage and direct its operations, the blogging employee can be disciplined (including up to the point of termination, depending upon the circumstances).

    Summited by: Peter Straszynski

                                                                       

                                                                       

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  • HR Performance & Results Goes Social

     HR Performance & Results now has a Facebook and Twitter page as well as a LinkedIn account. Our goal is to create a community discussion on hot HR topics. We also want to create new a forum where fresh innovative ideas can develop. This month we will be discussing social media in the workplace…the good, the bad and the ugly. We would like to invite you to visit our discussion board and share your thoughts. Click on our social media buttons on the side of this page to join. 

    HR Performance & Results Team

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  • New Employment Standards Claim Process

    In November 2010, the Ontario government announced the Open for Business Act. The act amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Effective January 19th, 2011 there is a new process for filing employment standards claims.

    Previously, complainants were assigned an Employment Standards Officer to investigate right away. Now, complainants must inform their employer first of the problem (i.e. an issue with vacation pay, pregnancy leave, etc.) before filing a complaint. The complainant must report to the Director of Employment Standards that they have informed their employer of the problem. Complainants must provide any evidence to the Director of Employment Standards that may be requested. These steps must be taken within 6 months, if not, the complaint will be refused.

    The intention of this new process is to lessen the accumulation of employment standards complaints to promote early resolution.

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  • Reminder for preventing heat stress

    Over the past couple of weeks we have experienced extremely hot temperatures in Ontario. These temperatures can cause heat stress, which can effect anyone.  Factors that can contribute to heat stress include fatigue, fluid loss and hard physical work.

    Workers and employers should familarize themselves with the symptoms of heat stress. Some symptoms include excessive sweating, headaches, rashes, cramping, and dizziness. Often workers are unaware of their symptoms, by taking precautions such as drinking lots of water, avoiding working in direct sunlight, reducing the pace of work and wearing lighter coloured clothing, etc. will help to ensure workers do not experience heat stress.

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