What is Employment Law?
Employment law refers to the set of rules that govern the relationship between an employer and an employee. Those rules include, to name a few, the duty to provide work, the obligation to pay wages, the duty to accommodate human rights, and many others. One of the biggest, most important areas of employment law in Ontario deals with termination of employment.
Why should I speak to an employment lawyer?
Many employers mistakenly believe that all human resource matters can be handled by their human resources staff. Others believe that everything they need to know about employment law can be found in the Ontario Employment Standards Act. They are mistaken. Employment law is full of hidden, costly traps that you won’t find in the Employment Standards Act. Only a tiny fraction of employment law litigation is over violations of the ESA.
Employment law is often misunderstood and misapplied by employees and employers alike. It is often counterintuitive and confusing. There is no comprehensive list anywhere of an employer’s legal obligations in the workplace. If your business is based in Ontario, your workplace is likely governed by three main pieces of legislation: the Employment Standards Act, the Human Rights Code and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
Employers arguably face the most significant employment law liability at “common law”, which is the judge-made law that applies throughout Ontario and/or Canada. Namely, the common law of wrongful dismissal gives all employees a right to reasonable notice or pay in lieu of reasonable notice at termination. This is not to be confused with the minimum entitlements your employee has under the ESA. At common law, if you fire an employee, your company could be liable for wrongful dismissal damages equivalent to upwards of 2 years of that employee’s salary!
Most employers speak to an employment lawyer for the first time after they’ve been threatened with a lawsuit by a former employee. Although an experienced employment lawyer will fight to reduce an employer’s liability when faced with a lawsuit, the only way to limit or eliminate employment law liability is with good planning, strategy, and documentation from the moment an employee is offered a job. That is the value that an employment lawyer brings to your business.
I run a small business. Am I still at risk?
Yes. Employment law, in general, favours the employee, and can be very costly for an employer. With very few exceptions, Ontario employment law applies equally to all employers, large and small. That means that the small businesses who do not arm themselves with sound legal advice are playing with fire. To avoid getting burned, employers must have good planning, strategy, and proper documentation in place.
What can Hyde HR Law do for my company?
The expert employment lawyers at Hyde HR Law can assist you in any human resources matter, from the moment you offer an employee a job, up to when you need to terminate an employee, and at any point in between. We draft employment contracts for our clients to limit wrongful dismissal liability. We prepare and deliver workplace training to employees on bullying, harassment, and discrimination. We draft and review workplace policies that limit our clients’ liability while reducing cost. We help our clients with strategy when terminating employees. We vigorously defend our clients in legal proceedings. We do all of this and more. Contact Hyde HR Law today to find out how we can be of value to your business.