Expanded parental leave, new caregiver benefit, to come into effect Dec. 3

By Jordan Press

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ New mothers and fathers planning to begin their parental leave on or after Dec. 3 will be able to spread their federal benefits over a longer period of time.

The federal government’s long-promised changes to parental leave rules will go into effect early next month, says Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, allowing eligible new parents to take up to 18 months of employment insurance benefits after the birth of a child.

On that same date, a new family caregiver benefits will also kick in one a 15-week leave to care for a critically ill or injured adult, the other a 35-week benefit to care for a critically ill or injured child.

Eligible soon-to-be-mothers will also be able to claim maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before the baby is due.

However, the government won’t increase the actual value of employment insurance benefits for anyone who takes the extended parental leave: instead, the Liberals are sticking with their 2015 election promise to spread 12 months’ worth of benefits over 18 months.

The change in rules will automatically give more workers in federally regulated workplaces like banks, transport companies, the public service and telecoms the option of taking time off, and are likely to spur calls for provincial changes to allow the other 92 per cent of Canadian workers access to similar leave.

So far, Ontario has publicly said it will amend its legislation to match the new federal rules.

Affected workplaces will have to decide how or even if to amend existing leave policies and collective agreements that spell out issues like salary top-ups.

As is, the federal parental leave program pays out benefits for up to 17 weeks for new mothers and allows parents to split an additional 35 weeks.

Under the changes first outlined in this year’s budget, new parents apply for employment insurance benefits, they will be able to decide whether to take additional weeks off, which can be split between parents.

Anyone who is already receiving 35 weeks of parental leave before the new measures officially come into effect won’t be able to switch and take the extra time.

The eligibility for the cash won’t change: A new parent will still need 600 hours of work in the previous 12 months to access benefits, while self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI system will need to have earned at least $6,888 in the last year.

The Liberals budgeted $886 million over the next five years for the new measures, and $204.8 million a year after that.

None of the parental leave changes will impact residents of Quebec, where the province runs its own parental leave program.

CONSIDERING A CAREER AS AN INSURANCE SPECIALIST?

CONSIDERING A CAREER AS AN INSURANCE SPECIALIST?

Insurance plays a prominent role in our everyday lives. Whether you are a homeowner, you rent a house or an apartment, or you own or lease a vehicle you need to protect yourself against the unexpected. As the older generation of employees in the insurance industry continue to retire, the demand for fresh talent rises. An education in this field opens up opportunities for a career that allows you to explore different paths and grow as a professional.

ILScorp has partnered with  triOS College of Business, Technology and Healthcare, to create the Insurance Specialist diploma program.  This program will prepare you with the essential skills you need in standard coverages, regulations and claims adjusting, and other key areas that will prepare you for a career in this sector. This program includes training and the ability to write the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO) exam, an 8-week internship and more!

The Insurance Specialist diploma program at triOS is 45 weeks. It includes an 8 week internship.

PREPARATORY STUDIES
Student Success Strategies, Computer Fundamentals, Microsoft Office Applications, Career Planning & Preparation

WORKPLACE SKILLS
Interpersonal Communication, Client Relations, Critical Thinking, Group Dynamics

INTRODUCTION TO INSURANCE
General Insurance Standard Coverages, Insurance Regulations and Claims Adjusting, Ontario Specific Coverage and Forms, RIBO Exam Prep, Job Ready Provincial Compliance,
Insurance Industry Professional Ethics, Broker Skills Development, Property Insurance, Automobile Insurance

INTERNSHIP (8 WEEKS)

Students in this program will learn the main duties of an Insurance Broker:

Advocate on behalf of clients to ensure client satisfaction with insurance coverage

Build and manage client relationships with prospective, new and existing clients

Maintain relationships and client service levels by conducting renewal and follow-up clients

Issue insurance certificates, make policy changes and prepare documents

If you have decided to pursue a career as an insurance specialist, make sure you know all of these things collected in our Resources http://ow.ly/CCH230efuoW

Book a Tour at triOS College Today and Discover a Richer, More Rewarding Future!

Call: 1-877-550-1160

Visit: www.triOS.com

New TD call centre will create 575 jobs in Moncton, N.B., province says

MONCTON, N.B. _ TD has announced plans for a new call centre in Moncton, N.B., that the provincial government says will create up to 575 full-time jobs.

The Toronto-based bank will receive up to $9 million in financial assistance from the government, which says the call centre will add $109-million to the province’s GDP over six years.

TD says it is now looking for a location in the Moncton area.

It will be the second business service centre in New Brunswick for TD, of which former premier Frank McKenna is deputy chairman. TD’s Saint John insurance call centre employs about 700 people.

“Moncton is a vibrant community and we are elated to be expanding our presence here,” McKenna said in a statement.

The provincial government money includes a $6.8 million forgivable loan and $2.1 million for training.

New Brunswick, Canada’s only officially bilingual province, already hosts call centres for companies including WestJet, Sears, and Medavie Blue Cross.

“Business services centres provide thousands of New Brunswickers with employment and contribute greatly to our economy,” said Premier Brian Gallant.

Cutting off insurance benefits can come back to haunt you

Terminating an employee is always difficult, but when it comes to employee benefits, both employees and employers need to do their due diligence to avoid issues in the future.

Employers typically think about issues such as showing due cause or the length of severance packages, and employee benefits aren’t at the top of the list of considerations. But benefits can often come back to haunt you after employees leave, as they can sue their former employers for big bucks if the proper procedures weren’t followed. Here are a few tips on making sure you’ve covered your bases during the termination process.

Make sure you know how long an employee is covered after they leave

It’s important to factor benefits coverage into the severance package. This is where you outline the employee’s notice period – the length of time after termination that the employee will remain eligible for benefits – which is something many employees, and indeed employers, may not realize.

Employee benefits coverage needs to be extended for the same duration as a termination package – it’s a common misconception that notice periods only need to meet the statutory minimums to satisfy an employer’s obligations, which equals approximately one week of notice for every year of employment. Either you or your employee benefits broker should also notify the insurance company in advance of the termination, and have them approve the continuation of benefits.

If your benefits package includes long-term disability coverage, your insurance provider likely won’t extend those benefits for a terminated employee, so you’ll need to set up separate LTD coverage.

Take common-law notice into account: it’s not always a simple calculation

The minimum legal requirement of one week for every year of employment is often overridden by common-law notice. This supplements statutory minimums, and is determined by a number of factors including employee position, age, and length of service.

Violation of notice periods is often to blame for an employer becoming liable for damages during termination, usually as a result of cancelling an employee’s coverage too soon. Notice periods are also often calculated by taking into account court decisions in similar cases.

Protect yourself by having employees sign a waiver

Having employees sign a waiver as part of the departure process is one of the best ways to avoid any future liabilities for employers, regardless of whether an employee is terminated or has quit.

One of the main purposes of the waiver is to ensure that the employee is aware of their right to convert their employee benefits coverage to an individual policy. Many employees may not realize this, but they have a right to convert to individual life, health and dental coverage before their previous coverage is cut. If the conversion is done within 31 days of leaving the company, no medical underwriting is required.

In Card Estate v. John A. Robertson Mechanical Contractors (1985) Ltd. (1989), 26 CCEL 294, (Ont. H.C.), an employee was terminated without being told that his life insurance was being terminated or that he had 31 days to convert the life, health and dental coverage to an individual policy. The court found the employer was liable to the employee’s estate when he died during the conversion period.

Make sure you accurately describe benefits packages to employees and their dependents

Apart from a thorough waiver, there are other steps that employers can take, particularly during the hiring process, to ensure a smooth termination. One of the most important is accurately describing the employee benefits in the initial benefit package that’s given to new hires.

If discrepancies come to light between the package literature and what the insurance company has listed, employers can find themselves paying for the difference, and this amount often can be more than the cost of the original plan. Employers are required by law to provide a printed or electronic package outlining the benefits program to each employee and, when changes are made to the coverage plan, each employee should be given an updated copy.

Employers have also been held liable for not providing employees with clear instructions about the benefit packages. In a 1999 case, Deraps v Labourer’s Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada, Mrs. Deraps signed a waiver giving up all rights to spousal benefits after her husband’s death and she went on to sue her husband’s employer, the labourer’s pension fund, claiming that she wasn’t aware of what she was signing and that no one had explained to her what the waiver contained. The court found that the benefit plan’s administrator had a responsibility to provide “complete and clear information.” Mrs. Deraps was awarded damages equal to the amount of the pension income she would have received had she not signed the waiver.

In a similar case, Feldstein v Northern Development Corp., the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded an employee who suffered from cystic fibrosis a total of $93,336.90 in damages after they claimed that their long-term disability benefits were not accurately explained to them when they were initially hired.

The court said that the method by which the employer described “Proof of Good Health” (a requirement for LTD benefits) was “inaccurate, untrue, and misleading.”

When in doubt, seek legal advice

Top 10 Issues For Employers, Issue #7: Obligations When Terminating Without Cause

Top 10 Issues For Employers, Issue #7: Obligations When Terminating Without Cause

Article by Labour & Employment Group
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

This is the seventh instalment in our Top 10 Issues for Employers series. This issue addresses termination entitlements upon a “without cause” dismissal.

OVERVIEW

Understanding an employee’s entitlements upon a without cause dismissal is an essential step towards avoiding unnecessary wrongful dismissal claims. Canadian law imposes obligations on employers to provide their employees with certain entitlements in the event of a without cause dismissal. Since there is a very high bar for establishing “just cause” — which generally permits an employer to provide no notice or other entitlements upon dismissal — the vast majority of terminations in Canada will be without cause.

REASONABLE NOTICE OF TERMINATION

In the absence of an enforceable termination clause in a written employment contract, an employee’s termination entitlements will be governed by Canadian common law (with the exception of Quebec, discussed below). One obligation imposed upon employers by the common law is to provide employees with reasonable notice of termination of employment, or pay in lieu of reasonable notice, in the absence of just cause for dismissal.

There is no fixed formula for determining reasonable notice in any given case. There are, however, several factors that courts consider when determining reasonable notice, including the availability of similar employment as well as the employee’s age, length of service, position and level of compensation. In essence, the courts aim to identify, on a case-by-case basis, the length of notice that the employee will need to find alternate work of a similar nature. By way of example, reasonable notice generally ranges from a few weeks up to 24 months depending on the above factors, but there are exceptions.

The concept of reasonable notice signifies actual or written notice. In principle, the employee is expected to continue his or her active employment during the applicable notice period. As an active employee, the individual would usually be entitled to all elements of his or her compensation package during the notice period. However, employers typically provide an employee with pay in lieu of notice or a “package” upon termination of employment rather than actual or working notice. Thus, in the pay in lieu of notice scenario, to mirror what they would have received had they been provided with actual notice, employees are generally entitled to payment reflecting all elements of their compensation package, including, for example, salary, benefits and pro-rated bonus or other incentive compensation (subject to the terms of any applicable policies or plans).

Written employment agreements may modify and/or limit an employer’s common law obligations. In general terms, where there is a proper and enforceable employment contract that specifies what the employee will receive upon termination of employment, then it will be the employment contract — and not the common law — that the employer will rely on in determining an employee’s entitlements upon termination. However, any contract that a court finds as providing less than the employee’s minimum statutory entitlements will be viewed as unenforceable and an employee in such a scenario will be entitled to reasonable notice of termination.

QUEBEC CONSIDERATIONS

Common law principles are not applicable in Quebec. Rather, employers’ obligations are established by the Civil Code of Québec, which provides that an employee can claim reasonable notice (or compensation in lieu of notice) of the termination of his or her employment, such that an employee’s entitlements upon a without cause dismissal in Quebec are substantially similar to those of employees in the common law provinces and territories.

That being said, Canadian employers should be aware of the fact that there are unique legislative and other requirements relating to employment in Quebec that are not present in the common law provinces and territories.

STATUTORY MINIMUM STANDARDS

Employment standards legislation in all Canadian jurisdictions sets out minimum notice (or pay in lieu of notice) obligations for employers when they dismiss an employee without cause. It should be emphasized that the statutory minimums prescribed by employment standards legislation with respect to notice and severance are just that — minimum standards. They represent the lowest possible amounts that an employee is entitled to receive on dismissal without cause. An employer cannot contract out of the statutory minimum entitlements.

Generally, an employee’s entitlement to statutory minimum notice of dismissal increases with his or her length of service. For example, in Ontario, employees are generally entitled under statute to one week’s notice (or pay in lieu of notice) for each completed year of employment, to a maximum of eight weeks. Although employees’ entitlement to notice of termination of employment varies slightly from province to province, employment standards legislation across the Canadian jurisdictions currently provide for a maximum statutory notice requirement of eight weeks or less.

Further, many employment standards statutes include enhanced notice requirements for employers that effect a mass termination of employment, which is defined in most provinces and territories as the dismissal of 50 or more employees in a span of four weeks or less (although in several provinces the threshold is as low as 10 employees).

In Ontario and the federal jurisdiction, employment standards legislation also requires employers to provide employees with statutory severance payments (in addition to statutory notice or pay in lieu of notice) in certain circumstances. In Ontario, employees who have five or more years of service at the time of their dismissal are entitled to statutory severance pay, if their employer has a payroll of C$2.5-million or more, or if the dismissal is part of a discontinuance of a business involving the termination of 50 or more employees in a period of six months or less. Severance pay is equal to one week’s pay for each completed year of employment and a proportionate amount of one week’s pay for a partial year of employment, to a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay. In the federal jurisdiction, an employee is entitled to statutory severance pay if he or she has completed 12 consecutive months of employment with an employer before being dismissed. Statutory severance pay in the federal jurisdiction is calculated as the greater of two days’ wages for each year of employment completed by the employee and five days’ wages.

BONUS AND OTHER INCENTIVE AWARDS

Even after the appropriate length of notice has been determined, there are often still disputes over whether compensation for lost bonus or other incentive awards should be included. As mentioned above, when employees are provided with pay in lieu of notice, they are normally entitled to all elements of compensation that they would have received had they remained employed during the notice period, which may include bonus and other incentive awards. However, the terms of any underlying bonus or incentive plans or policies are relevant to the determination of whether compensation for such awards should be included as part of an employee’s termination entitlements. For this reason, employers should ensure they have well-drafted plan documents.

CONCLUSION

Determining an employee’s entitlements upon a without cause dismissal may not always be straightforward. It requires considering whether common law reasonable notice applies or whether a contractual provision (including those which may limit an employee to the statutory minimums) governs an employee’s termination entitlements. If common law reasonable notice applies, the notice period must take into account various factors, including the availability of similar employment as well as the employee’s age, length of service, position and level of compensation. On the other hand, a contractual termination provision must be checked to ensure it is enforceable and that it complies with applicable statutory minimum standards. Finally, it must be determined which elements of compensation will be owed during the notice period, including bonus or other incentive awards.

Investing in well-drafted employment contracts and plan documents at the outset, and ensuring they are regularly reviewed and updated, is a good way to avoid potential pitfalls and bring additional certainty and consistency to the termination process.

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.

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it?

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it?

So you have got your license, now what?

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it? Do you know of someone looking for an excellent long-term career in the insurance industry? We have a unique fast-track 7-week personal lines insurance training opportunity starting April 17, 2017. We are looking for candidates from Victoria and the Lower Mainland area of BC, Kelowna and Kamloops. Hosted by Intact Insurance, you will receive technical, product and sales training for a successful career as a Personal Insurance Broker.

If you are a self-starter who is willing to give 100% to this fantastic program or know of someone who may be interested in applying to be a participant, please forward your cover letter and resume, along with two references, to:

dwalmsley@dlionline.ca

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Note: This program is only available for people not working in the insurance industry. If you are currently working for a general insurance broker, this opportunity is not an option for you at this time.

Testimonials from previous program participants:

“I believe it was a great start for me learning general insurance having no knowledge of the industry at all. The job shadowing with the underwriters helped me build a great relationship with them that whenever I give them a call and have questions and concerns it’s always pleasant and solutions are always given.” Ceazar Simon

“The ILS course was broken down in the best possible way. Very supportive staff that are dedicated to helping you achieve success. The live instruction is absolutely engaging and the instructors make it very easy to focus and learn what could otherwise be a dry subject. I have come out a great broker with a great career path ahead of me. I would recommend this course to absolutely anybody looking to get into the insurance sales industry. ” Joe Tobin

Why would I want to become a Personal Lines Insurance Broker?
Many people think working in the insurance industry is a boring 9 – 5 desk job that involves working alone in isolation under piles of paperwork.

This is not the case!

While many insurance industry roles do have an element of independence, an insurance career often calls for frequent client interaction, teamwork, networking and the opportunity for community involvement. These activities not only provide variety, they also provide a well-rounded set of skills and experience that can help you find a role or set of responsibilities that matches how you like to work. If you’re seeking a career that offers you the chance to succeed professionally while contributing something positive and necessary, becoming a personal lines insurance broker could be just the career opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Edited by ILSTV.

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