One of the main disputes regarding the rise and proliferation of the gig economy is whether its workers are employees or contractors. Companies treat such workers as independent contractors, but some workers have been pushing back, claiming that they are employees. This has implications for their ability to unionise. The Ontario Labour Relations Board will soon be ruling on this issue when it determines whether Foodora couriers have the right to unionise.
A recent Ontario Superior Court ruling highlights how employers can end up with unexpected employment liabilities after an asset purchase deal. It also highlights the importance of careful wording when hiring employees in those situations. In light of this decision, purchasers in an asset deal should be aware of the new employer's fate. In such cases, proper employment offers are key.
Employees sometimes need flexibility to start or leave work at different times than originally agreed with their employer (eg, because of childcare issues). A recent appellate decision confirms that employer flexibility in granting occasional requests does not always modify the underlying employment contract.
A recent arbitration decision has confirmed that termination can be the appropriate penalty for long-service employees with clean disciplinary records when they engage in sexual harassment, including showing a nude photo to a supervisor. This case highlights how seriously arbitrators look at sexual harassment in the workplace – particularly in the #MeToo era – and reminds employers of the importance of taking detailed notes during an investigation, including with respect to an individual's demeanour.
A recent British Columbia Supreme Court ruling has clarified that even where the terms of a bonus plan expressly state that payment of a bonus is discretionary, an employer's conduct can affect whether the bonus is treated as discretionary on termination of employment. Employers should be aware of, and adhere to, the terms of bonus plans. Further, employers must be mindful of the pattern and history of discretion exercised in awarding bonuses during an employee's employment.