Agenda

November 4, 2021 | 8:50 am to 2:00 pm PST

This program has been approved for 5.0 hours by the Law Society of British Columbia and may be applied towards the mandatory 12 hour Continuing Professional Development requirement in BC.

8:50 - 9:00 am

Registration and virtual orientation

9:00 - 9:05 am

Opening remarks

9:05 - 9:30 am

Managing the return to work and vaccinations

As we look to go back to 'normal' in the post-pandemic era, employers of all types need to assess what their workplace will look like and how it will impact their relationships with employees, the demands of their clients and customers, and their obligations to provide a safe work environment. What are some of the health and safety issues employers need to consider when it comes to creating their 'return to work' model? Can employers require their employees to get the vaccine as a condition of employment? This session covers:

  • previous rulings on vaccinations in the workplace, and privacy considerations
  • an overview of employers' legal health and safety obligations, emergency orders and municipal by-laws
  • health and safety issues employers may face at this stage of the pandemic
  • the enforcement of onsite health and safety protocols

Timothy Mitchell

Partner , McLennan Ross LLP

Birch Miller

Partner , Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

9:35 - 10:05 am

Equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace

As society, governments and employees expect equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) concerns to be addressed in the workplace, employers need to be mindful of their legal obligations. They should ensure they stay up to date on changing rules and regulations when introducing EDI policies and protocols within their workplaces. How can employers develop effective programs to meet EDI expectations? What are the legal boundaries impacting the existing and future workforce, and how can employers achieve their program outcomes within them? This session puts the spotlight on:

  • the important provincial standards and regulations that impact EDI
  • preventative measures to address workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying
  • how to implement proactive, as opposed to reactive, strategies

Catalina Rodriguez

Lawyer , Forte Law Corporation

10:10 - 10:50 am

Panel: Human rights and mental health considerations

Employers have a duty to accommodate employee needs when they stem from one or more prohibited grounds of discrimination, particularly in the area of human rights and mental health. These types of concerns should be handled carefully and empathetically, as they are not as easily detectable as harassment or bullying. The pandemic continues to impact the workplace, which means employers must stay up to date on their responsibilities to employees who request accommodation. Panelists discuss:

  • the boundaries included in human rights, as outlined in the Code, and mental health accommodation duties
  • employers’ duty to address and accommodate mental health obligations
  • the types of HR and mental health accommodations employers are facing

Steve Eichler

Partner , Field Law

Sarah Coderre

Partner & Co-Founder , Bow River Law

Joel Fairbrother

Partner & Co-Founder , Bow River Law

10:50 - 11:20 am

Networking and coffee break

11:20 - 11:50 am

Q&A: Constructive dismissal post-pandemic

Have a question or comment for our panel of employment law experts regarding constructive dismissal post-COVID? Join this short Q&A session for the answers to your most important employment queries.

Moderator:

Michelle McKinnon

Associate , McMillan LLP

Panelists:

Laura Dunnigan

Associate , Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Timothy Mitchell

Partner , McLennan Ross LLP

Michael Sherrard

Partner , Sherrard Kuzz LLP

Maxwell Brunette

Partner , Gowling WLG (Calgary, Vancouver)

11:55 - 12:25 pm

Family status accommodation

Some employers are receiving an increasing number of requests from employees for family status accommodation as a result of COVID-19. As employers plan their 'return to work' models, accommodation requests related to family obligations could continue to rise. Although some requests could trigger an employer’s legal duty to accommodate, not all will. This session focuses on:

  • the circumstances in which family status protection may apply
  • what needs to be carefully considered when reviewing family status accommodation requests
  • review measures employers can implement to address the complexities of family status accommodation requests, such as written workplace policies

Scott Marcinkow

Partner , Harper Grey LLP

Rose Keith

Associate Counsel , Harper Grey LLP

12:25 - 12:55 pm

Lunch break

12:55 - 1:25 pm

The practical challenges of a hybrid work setting

Employers are facing various practical challenges as they begin to reintegrate staff within an office setting. Some employers have chosen to adopt a hybrid workplace model, which will require them to help employees readjust to working in an office environment while also working remotely. This could create legal and workplace culture challenges for employers adjusting their team to a hybrid setting. This session discusses:

  • remote expenses and how to incorporate them within employment contracts
  • how to respond to employee requests to continue to work from home when staff are partially called back to the office
  • reintroducing social aspects of in-office settings while addressing safety considerations
  • examining and amending workplace policies and procedures to address a hybrid model

Michael Sherrard

Partner , Sherrard Kuzz LLP

1:30 - 2:00 pm

Growing and scaling a business

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, which comes with its own legal challenges and considerations. Some business owners are looking to make the change from founder to employer as they consider hiring key talent, while others are working to expand their existing businesses, whether that includes hiring more employees, adding a new or additional workspace, or more. Understanding your legal obligations as an employer can help you avoid or mitigate any potential employment conflicts in the future. This session looks at:

  • what entrepreneurs should keep in mind when making the shift from independent to employer
  • the important considerations when scaling or growing a business by hiring top talent
  • how to proactively create an 'employment plan' as an entrepreneur

Ashala Naidu

Lawyer , Naidu Legal

2:00 pm

Closing remarks

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