2022 Agenda

April 28, 2022 | Online | 8:50 am – 4:15 pm ET

8:50 - 9:00 am

Registration and virtual orientation

9:00 - 9:05 am

Opening remarks

9:05 - 9:45 am

Litigation update: Guidance for employers on how to manage their workplace liabilities and claims exposure

Employers continue to face multiple claims exposures, including novel situations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Disputes related to workplace changes triggered by the pandemic are flowing through courts and tribunals, and organizations are doing their best to mitigate against leading liability risks. This opening presentation will provide an update on the latest developments to help employers manage their litigation files.

  • Overview of COVID-19-related emerging liability risks: constructive dismissal claims, return to work vs remote work policies, infectious disease leave, mandatory vaccines and violations of safety protocols
  • Other case law updates

Nafisah Chowdhury

Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

9:50 - 10:20 am

Deciphering the implications of the Working for Workers Act for employers

As employers digest the passage of the Working for Workers Act in Ontario and further guidance is rolled out, organizations are responding by updating their employment policies to ensure they align with their new obligations. Further, other provinces across Canada are monitoring how these measures might impact their region and how recent trends in worker rights laws will affect their organizations. How will the Working for Workers Act impact current employment obligations, and how are employers responding to ensure compliance?

  • Guidance for developing your ‘right to disconnect’ policy and framework
  • How does the Act impact salaried vs hourly employees? What are the implications for employers when a policy is violated?
  • Non-competition agreements: What has changed, and when are they permissible? What is the impact on non-solicitation and trade secret provisions?
  • Using temporary recruiters and agencies

Bettina Burgess

Partner, Gowling WLG

10:25 - 11:05 am

An update on workplace vaccine mandates and compliance obligations

With COVID-19 continuing to impact organizations, employers must navigate emerging case law guidance and changing government regulations to ensure workplace vaccine compliance. As the meaning of ‘fully vaccinated’ evolves, employers need to assess and update their policies, protocols and reporting and enforcement mechanisms. How have recent decisions impacted an employer’s ability to mandate workplace vaccines? How does a hybrid work environment affect who is covered? What are some practical considerations when administering and enforcing vaccine policies?

  • Update on the latest developments from the courts and tribunals
  • Identifying the critical elements when implementing a vaccine policy strategy
  • How to balance disclosure vs an employee's right to privacy
  • Navigating policy enforcement when there is non-compliance
  • How can employers avoid potential liabilities with a robust vaccine policy?

Ronald E. Pizzo

Partner, Pink Larkin

11:05 - 11:20 am

Networking and coffee break

11:20 - 12:00 pm

Legal strategies and best practices to improve employee retention

A hot job market, increased workplace stress and a desire for a better work-life balance have contributed to increased employee turnover and greater retention challenges for employers. Organizations can mitigate these impacts, however, by reviewing their compensation structures, workplace policies and employment contracts to create a more favourable work environment. What legal tools can employers use to improve worker satisfaction and avoid the high cost of replacing valued employees?

  • Compensation structures, retention bonuses and incentive plans
  • Return-to-work and hybrid/work-from-home policies and strategies
  • Contract and termination provisions; using restrictive covenants

Nancy Shapiro

Partner, Koskie Minsky LLP

12:05 - 12:45 pm

Navigating workplace human rights and an employer’s duty to accommodate

The workplace is constantly changing, and the circumstances and conditions that an employer has a duty to accommodate continue to expand. Human rights legislation across Canada now defines discrimination as relating to age, gender, sexual orientation, family status, gender identity, expression and disability. Recent decisions by courts and tribunals have illustrated significant liabilities that employers can face when there is a failure to accommodate. How is the legal landscape changing when it comes to the duty to accommodate, and how can employers best protect themselves?

  • Overview of recent decisions by the courts and tribunals
  • Factors to consider when deciding types of accommodation
  • What is the scope of documentation that employers can request
  • Limits to accommodation: Undue hardship and a bona fide occupational requirement
  • Dealing with complex and difficult accommodation requests

Josiane L’Heureux

Partner, Lavery de Billy LLP

Brittany Carson

Partner, Lavery de Billy, LLP

12:45 - 1:15 pm

Lunch break

1:15 - 1:50 pm

Panel: Workplace mental health: Building a culture of wellness

Although the issue of mental health in the workplace is often discussed, an optimal approach to employee wellbeing remains a challenge for many organizations. Yet addressing this issue is critical to ensuring a highly functional workforce and avoiding potential future liabilities. What are the greatest workplace risk factors for mental health in the current environment? Our distinguished panel will tackle these critical questions.

  • How to create a culture of support and wellness to address mental health risks
  • Identify and discuss the role of senior management and the board
  • What types of policies, support and benefits work best for promoting a healthy workplace setting?

Moderator:

Maria Tassou

Senior Counsel, Pallett Valo LLP

Panelists:

Kara Hardin

Registered Psychotherapist, Kara Hardin Mental Health Consulting Inc.

Maneesha Gupta

Lawyer, Intellectual Property & Technology

Beth Beattie

Senior Counsel, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

1:55 - 2:35 pm

Maintaining health and safety in your organization: Practices and protocols as threats evolve

As organizations continue to navigate their return-to-work policies and develop more stable and long-term workplace protocols, it is vital they monitor, update and put into practice the workplace requirements of health and safety and related legislation. What are some of the top health and safety issues that need to be considered as threats continue to evolve? How can employers protect themselves, employees and clients and continue to meet the operational needs of their organizations?

  • Emerging OHS case law guidance
  • How are RTO and hybrid work environments incorporating OHS practices
  • Review of the current restrictions under public health law
  • Recent amendments to the Reopening Ontario Act and similar provincial legislation
  • Screening, RATs, mask wearing and other protection measures

Adrian Miedema

Partner, Dentons Canada LLP

2:40 - 3:00 pm

Networking and coffee break: Q&A breakout session

Have a question on employment law or a comment on a specific employment issue impacting your organization? Join our panel of distinguished employment law experts in this dedicated Q&A session.

Moderator:

Maria Tassou

Senior Counsel, Pallett Valo LLP

3:00 - 3:40 pm

Drafting and updating your employment agreements: A contract refresher in a changing workplace

Employers need to ensure their employment agreements are updated as they continue to operate in an unpredictable landscape. Further, changes to case law and employment standards mean employers need to regularly revisit their current agreements to ensure their contracts are legally binding. What are some important considerations to be mindful of when reviewing employment contracts? How can agreements help protect employers in situations, such as pandemics, that beyond their control? What are some typical mistakes employers make?

  • Examine recent court and tribunal trends and how they might impact existing agreements
  • Addressing work-from-home and hybrid settings, and other changes in working conditions
  • Termination clauses and ESA compliance; incentive entitlements
  • How to protect your organization against claims for constructive dismissal
  • Employment policies in agreements – ensuring these are updated and communicated
  • Best practices and tips for avoiding future liabilities

Mathias Link

Partner, Fasken

3:40 - 3:45 pm

Closing remarks

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