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All Employers Please Read This...

Monday morning you arrive at work and notice one of your employees is under stress. She has indicated to you that she is fearful about the possibility of domestic violence at home. As an employer you have a duty to act, and many things need to be done as a result of the new legislation.

Effective June 15, 2010, a new law known as Ontario Bill 168 came into force, and under new legislation, as an employer you have obligations in how, and to what extent, both workplace violence and workplace harassment are regulated in Ontario. If you have a business with 5 or more employees, you must comply with the new regulations. Employers must develop broad but specific policies and programs to help prevent violence and harassment at work. The following is a summary of steps needed to meet this requirement. Firstly, the employer must develop written policies that are posted in the office with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment. There must be a formal and documented risk assessment for workplace violence. From this assessment a workplace violence and harassment program must be developed. There must be a protocol of how incidents or threats of workplace violence are reported to the employer or supervisor. The employer must establish a practice on how the incidents, complaints or threats are investigated and managed for workplace violence. There must be a regular reassessment of policies of the program. In establishing these policies and procedures you must train your employees accordingly. An employee could refuse to work if they have reason to believe they are in danger of being a victim of workplace violence.

If you feel you can ignore this legislation, you should be advised that any individual in an authority position failing to comply can personally be fined up to $25,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment or both. Corporations convicted of an offence can be fined up to $500,000! Ontario Bill 168 is now known as Section 32 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. A lawyer should be consulted to assist in compliance.

Save Money – Employment Contracts for your Staff

The main benefit of a proper, written contract is to set the terms for giving reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice, before terminating an employee. There are Employment Standards set out by the Ontario Government that indicate minimum standards required when you hire employees. However, under common law the Courts could allow significant termination pay as reasonable notice period in absence of an employment contract. These written contracts could save $100,000 plus in termination payouts. Another benefit is to protect the company from any competitiveness breach if an employee was terminated. If your company has been operating for a number of years without written contracts do not be discouraged. These contracts can be prepared for existing staff and there are legal ways to transition the existing staff.

An employment lawyer would be most suitable to assist with the above documents. If you have any questions or would like to receive further information please feel free to contact us.

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