Tips On The Right Way To Fire Employees In Ontario

Article by Andrew N. Vey

Dismissing an employee is not a pleasant experience. But whether you like it or not, this is one task that most businesses will encounter at some point. As President Trump reminded us again this week after reports surfaced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned of his firing by way of a twitter post, there is both a right way and a wrong way to conduct employee terminations.

Ontario courts have recognized that employees are particularly vulnerable at the time of dismissal. As such, it is vital that employers carefully plan for any termination of employment. While there is no fixed formula for this process, here are a few tips that employers should bear in mind when approaching their next employee termination:

  • Ensure confidentiality and privacy: No employee should be forced to endure their dismissal from employment in a public setting. As such, be sure to keep the details of an employee’s termination as private as possible. Other than those directly involved, no other workers should learn of the employee’s dismissal prior to the event or be provided with any more than minimal information (i.e. person X no longer works with the company) after the dismissal. Termination meetings should be conducted in a private and discrete location away from the ordinary course of business. In addition, holding a termination meeting later in the day may also help avoid any unnecessary embarrassment for the worker.
  • Be brief and to the point: In so much as possible, try to keep termination meetings short. Termination meetings are by their very nature charged affairs so the longer they go on, the more potential there is for stress and confrontation. It can be helpful to prepare a brief script in advance to make sure you remember the topics that need to be covered in an efficient manner.
  • Have a witness and make notes: It is helpful to have at least two members of management, or human resources, attend at any termination meeting. This proactive step can be useful in the event that there is a future dispute as to what occurred in the course of the dismissal meeting. Essentially, the second employer representative is there to act as a witness. Additionally, as soon as the termination meeting is concluded, both employer representatives should immediately draft, sign and date notes as to what transpired in the termination meeting.
  • Be ready for the inevitable question “why?”: In almost every termination meeting, the employee in question will want to know why they are losing their job. While most provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are not required to give a reason when dismissing an employee without cause, as a matter of best practice, it is generally advisable to provide an answer. Not knowing why they are out of work will not only frustrate the employee but may precipitate legal action which could otherwise have been avoided. In giving a reason for the dismissal, be truthful and succinct.
  • Prepare a termination letter: There can be a lot of details involved in the dismissal of an employee. Issues range from severance to benefits coverage to accrued vacation (just to name of few). Having a written termination letter will help to ensure that all this information is addressed clearly and concisely for the employee and avoid misunderstandings about the employer’s position. It is common that employees will not hear or remember events in a termination meeting past the words “we’re letting you go” so having a written record of the terms of the dismissal can be of vital importance to the employee.
  • Be sensitive: When ending a worker’s employment, try to be as supportive and considerate as possible. Listen to their feedback and watch the employee’s mood and reactions. If they seem particularly distraught, offer to call a family member or cab to help them get home. Likewise, you can offer to have their effects packed up and sent to them if they don’t want to collect things personally. Where possible, avoid escorting the worker out of the workplace under guard after the meeting (but do keep an eye on them to ensure nothing improper happens). Finally, if the worker is known to be aggressive or volatile, make arrangements in advance to have security available should they need to called into the meeting and consider the safety of other staff members in carrying out the termination.
  • Don’t force decisions in the meeting: If you are making the employee a settlement offer in exchange for a release of claims against the employer, avoid having the employee decide on the spot. Even if they offer to sign immediately, it is generally best practice to advise them to go away and think about things. Should they wish to accept the employer’s offer, timelines and methods for doing so should be laid out clearly in the termination letter.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. Each employee dismissal will come with its own unique circumstances and challenges. However, with sufficient planning, organization and sensitivity to the employee, it is possible to get through the dismissal process in respectful fashion, while avoiding the creation of problems that may later come back to haunt the employer.

Originally published on March 16, 2018 at First Reference Talks.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Saskatchewan traffic safety campaign nabs record number of distracted drivers

REGINA _ Saskatchewan Government Insurance says a traffic safety campaign last month nabbed a record number of distracted drivers.

The Crown-owned insurance company says police ticketed 771 drivers for traffic offences in March including 583 for using a cellphone.

That’s the highest number of tickets issued in a month for distracted driving

SGI says police used a number of tactics to spot offenders, including riding on buses, using plainclothes officers on sidewalks and patrolling in unmarked SUVs.

The fine for distracted driving is $280 and four demerit points in the insurer’s save-driver program, which helps determine insurance rates.

A second offence in a year draws a one-week vehicle impoundment.

SGI says motorists just aren’t getting the message that they need to put their phones away, even though distracted driving was the leading cause of all traffic collisions in Saskatchewan in 2016. It was a factor in almost 8,300 collisions that contributed to 42 deaths and 1,200 injuries.

B.C. to limit auto insurance claims, speed up process to settle disputes

VICTORIA _ The British Columbia government has introduced legislation that will attempt to restore the finances of the public auto insurance agency.

Attorney General David Eby has promised changes to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia as it faced a forecasted deficit of $1.3 billion.

The proposed changes introduced Monday in the legislature include a limit of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims and faster resolutions of disputes.

If approved, the changes will set up a resolution process for cases under $50,000 that allows them to be resolved in as little as 90 days instead of two to three years.

Eby says for years, drivers have had to pay more to cover the agency’s spiralling legal and administrative costs.

The government says the changes are necessary to help address the massive growth in the cost of injury claims, which jumped 80 per cent between 2009 and 2016.

Stressed-out working CDN’s want to invest in themselves but can’t afford it

Working Canadians are stressed. According to a recent TD survey, two thirds say they experience moderate to high levels of stress at their job. An overwhelming majority of them (95 per cent) consider it important to invest in themselves, but over half (53 per cent) don’t do it as frequently as they’d like.

Canadians working in health care and social assistance, or finance, insurance and real estate are more likely than average to say they experience high or moderate levels of stress at their job. While it’s clear working Canadians want to devote time to themselves, two thirds (67 per cent) of those who don’t invest in themselves as much as they’d like to say they don’t because they can’t afford it. Furthermore, 82 per cent of working Canadians said they would invest in themselves more if they had the financial resources to do so.

“Canadians recognize the importance of taking a break and doing something good for themselves, but often don’t because of the associated cost,” says Jennifer Diplock, Associate Vice President, Personal Savings and Investing, TD Canada Trust. “It’s important to strike a balance in life, and one way to do that is for Canadians to view these expenses as an investment in their well-being.”

While investing in yourself can mean something different to everyone, most working Canadians (81 per cent) say they’d prefer to take a vacation. Millennials, however, are more likely than average to want to start or continue a hobby (54 per cent), further their education (29 per cent) or start a new business or side hustle (17 per cent). Ideally, three quarters of working Canadians (74 per cent) would invest in themselves a minimum of twice per year, and say their top motivators are relaxation (66 per cent), refreshing themselves (62 per cent) and improving their mental health (49 per cent).

“Whichever way you choose to find balance in the daily grind, whether it’s a family vacation or starting a new hobby, investing in yourself doesn’t have to break the bank,” says Diplock. “It’s about setting a goal and managing your savings to ensure you have enough to refresh and re-energize yourself. Try setting up a “me” fund and make regular contributions or, if you will receive a tax refund, use it as a starting point to help you achieve your goals.”

For those looking to strike a balance in life, TD offers the following tips on how to help invest in yourself:

  • Find your passion: Life should be about more than just work, we need play too. Think about the activities you love doing and schedule time in your calendar to do them weekly or monthly. Don’t know what your passion is? Experiment by trying new classes, joining a new team or rec league, or organizing a group of friends to try new activities.
  • Use your tax refund: If you’re fortunate enough to receive a tax refund this year, like the 54 per cent of Canadians who expect to2, why not use it to invest in yourself? Taking a vacation or going back to school can be expensive, but your tax refund can help provide the start you need. For short-term savings goals, consider investing in a safe but flexible product with a guaranteed rate, like Cashable GICs at TD, which will help you achieve your saving and investing goals, or reach your goals faster with a TD High Interest Savings Account, which can help encourage you to save more.
  • Take a staycation: You don’t have to leave the country to experience a relaxing vacation. Plan a vacation closer to home to do the things you’ve always wanted to do but have never gotten around to. For example, book a relaxing afternoon at a local spa, have a leisurely lunch at your favourite restaurant or explore the latest buzzed-about art exhibit. Plus, staying close to home can be a more affordable option if you’re looking for something to help fit within your broader strategy.
  • Start a “me” fund: Investing in yourself should be treated like other items you’re saving for, like a car or new computer. Open a Tax-Free Savings Account that can help build your savings faster with tax-free growth and contribute to it regularly3. You can also set up automatic transfers using any one of TD’s Automated Savings Optionsto help you reach your savings goals sooner.

For more information, please visit www.tdcanadatrust.com.

Connected And Protected: Insuring Your Business Against Cyber Breaches

Article by Imran Ahmad

It was not long ago that a company’s cybersecurity plan was centred around the IT department, keeping internal networks protected and staying alert to malware and virus threats. Now, the risks have evolved: as companies have moved to more cloud computing solutions, Software as a Service providers and internet-enabled systems, they face more exposure to both internal and external risks. If your company has not identified your potential risks and implemented a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy that includes cyber insurance, you could be facing expensive consequences.

Who Connects to You?

Does your company use outside providers for software services, such as cloud computing, data analytics, HR or payroll software? How does a data breach or software failure at their end affect your business? Are you responsible to your clients or customers for a breach of someone else’s system? Review your vendor contracts for these services to ensure that you are indemnified for a breach of their security. There should also be clear language in the contract about how and when they must inform you of any breach so that you can take appropriate action to protect your business and your clients.

What Connects to You?

The Internet is no longer just about connecting computers to one another and hosting websites. The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding rapidly, and there may be connected devices used in your day-to-day operations that you are not even aware of. Security systems, climate controls, driver tracking and other business tools use connectivity that makes them potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks. Some IoT devices have built-in security measures that protect privacy, while others may create risks for your company. Assessing these risks should be part of your overall cybersecurity strategy. Using “privacy by design” principles and conducting privacy impact assessments (PIAs) and threat risk assessments (TRAs) can help with your overall risk assessment and risk mitigation strategy.

How Can You Protect Your Business?

Cyber insurance is an important tool that can help to transfer some of the risks associated with cybersecurity. The types of costs that can be mitigated through cyber insurance include:

  • Legal fees: This includes running investigations, sending out notifications of a breach and working with regulators.
  • Investigations and recovery: Understanding what happened and how to quickly get back to normal operations can be a costly process.
  • Crisis management: You may need to engage public relations experts and crisis management consultants to manage the company’s reputation in the wake of a cyber breach.

Of course, insurers are always looking to minimize the chances that they will need to pay out on a policy. In order to keep your premiums as low as possible, it’s important to understand and reduce your risk level. Insurance firms may ask if you have reviewed your contracts with the providers of your IoT devices to guarantee that these devices have built-in security and confirm that you have included indemnity clauses. They will assess whether vulnerabilities in one IoT device will lead to vulnerabilities throughout your business and whether you have layers of technology or security in place to ensure that this cannot happen.

The insurers will use a questionnaire to make sure your risk profile is as low as possible so that you can get the best possible premiums. Have you implemented comprehensive pre-breach risk mitigation strategies that include board coaching, employee training, vendor contract management and cloud security? The more you can do to prevent a breach, the lower your cyber insurance premiums will be.

If you’re unsure where to begin, the cybersecurity team at Miller Thomson can help you to understand where your business may be exposed to cybersecurity risks and how to improve security and prevent breaches.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

BC Court of Appeal – “Costs Thrown Away” Should Routinely Be Ordered For Late Adjournments

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Court of Appeal finding that ‘costs thrown away’ should ordinarily be ordered against a party obtaining a late trial adjournment.

In today’s case (Bolin v. Lylick) the Plaintiff sued for damages from personal injuries.  6 weeks prior to trial she successfully applied to adjourn it after having switched lawyers.  The Court of Appeal noted there was nothing wrong with this however found that the adjournment was prejudicial to the Defendants and this should have been remedied with an order of costs thrown away.  In discussing this norm the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[19]       In these circumstances, there is no apparent reason to depart from the usual approach to costs in circumstances of a late adjournment; in other words, there is no apparent reason not to relieve the defendants from the prejudice of the late adjournment by an award of costs thrown away. It is to be remembered that even though the judge did not attribute fault to the plaintiff in the adjournment application, in asking for an adjournment the plaintiff was asking for an indulgence from the court that had adverse consequences for the defendants. I would add to the order made for the adjournment a term that the defendants are entitled to their costs of trial preparation thrown away. I would not define the degree of such wasted costs in the circumstances of this case as was done, for example in Dhillon v. Foster, 2004 BCSC 1782, to which we have been referred, and I note further, that what fits within the waste captured by the term “costs thrown away” is properly a matter for the trial court’s determination.

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