BC Workplace Blog

Authored By Michelle Quinn & Colleagues

Thou Shalt (Not) Wear Masks – Freedom of Religion and Mask Wearing Policies

Under what circumstances can a worker refuse to wear a mask in the workplace for religious reasons? Can the absence of faith in the efficacy of masks be the basis of a religious practice protected by human rights legislation? This month, we take a look at a recent BC Human Rights Tribunal ruling on this very issue.

Impact of COVID-19 on Wrongful Dismissal Damages: A Review of Recent Cases

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the Canadian economy and has resulted in job loss and precarious employment across various sectors. It is yet to be seen however if and how these changes will affect an employee’s entitlement to reasonable notice following a without cause dismissal. In this article, we review recent court decisions addressing the impact of COVID-19 on wrongful dismissal damages.

Vaccination Policies in the Workplace – Can Employers Mandate or Not?

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country has brought with it both the hope of return to normalcy, as well as concerns about infringement of privacy and human rights through mandatory vaccination in the workplace. How will vaccinations impact the workplace? Can employers implement mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace? In this blog post, we analyze the existing law on mandatory vaccination and what we anticipate will be permitted in the workplace with respect to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Termination for Just Cause – No Mask No Job?

The coronavirus pandemic has brought so much uncertainty with it and has turned the world of work on its head. Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their workplace and implement measures to keep their workers safe. On November 24, 2020, BC issued a Public Health Order (the “Order”) requiring the use of masks in all public indoor spaces in the province. Since this Order, our Group has and continues to receive a lot of questions from business owners and employers on the mandatory masking order, in particular, what happens if an employee refuses to comply with an employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan including an unwillingness to wear a face mask?

In this blog post, we consider whether an employer can terminate an employee’s employment for cause for refusing to wear a face mask while at work.

Essential Information Employers Should Know About COVID-19 Temporary Layoffs and ESA Termination Pay

Many BC employers will have issued temporary layoffs to employees with the start of BC’s COVID-19 lock down in March. Soon after the start of the provincial lock down, the BC Government extended the temporary layoff period under the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA) from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related layoffs. On June 26, 2020, the BC Government announced a further extension to 24 weeks expiring on August 30, 2020.

COVID-19 Privacy FAQs: Answering the Questions You’ve Been Wondering About

Privacy issues have suddenly been appearing in the news, as we all grapple with COVID-19. What information can be disclosed about someone who is sick? What technology can we use to contain the spread? Can videoconference programs be used to help people work remotely? This blog post tries to give short answers to each of these questions, from a privacy law perspective.

Employment Contract Impossible to Perform: COVID-19 An Unforeseeable Event?

We continue to receive many questions from employers and employees about terminations and lay-offs, so in this blog post we provide an overview of the key notice provisions in the BC Employment Standards Act ("ESA") that may assist you during these uncertain times. The minimum notice periods identified in the ESA may be in the form of working notice or payment in lieu of notice. In particular, we take a look at rarely used section 65(1)(d) of the ESA which states that an employer is not required to provide notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice to its employees if it can prove that COVID-19 has been an “unforeseen circumstance” that has made continuing the employment contract “impossible”.

COVID-19 News: Details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Program Released

Employers of all sizes, including charities and not-for-profit organizations, are now eligible for the federal government's new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) if they meet the qualifying criteria. The previous wage subsidy program remains available but applies only to small or medium size businesses.

UPDATED Information as of March 25: FAQs about COVID-19 for Employers

As of March 17, 2020, the BC Government has announced a public health emergency under the Public Health Act, and on March 23rd, 2020 the BC Government enacted an amendment to the BC Employment Standards Act specifically directed to granting “job protected” leaves for BC employees impacted by COVID-19.

FAQs about COVID-19 for Employers

The unprecedented circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic have many employers looking for answers to complex questions in a hurry. As a service to our clients, here are some of the questions we have been asked most often in recent days.

Duty to Accommodate – Perfection Not Required

In this blog post, I reviewed the recent human rights case of Gaucher v. Fraser Health Authority where the Tribunal dismissed Ms. Gaucher's discrimination complaint. Ms. Gaucher claimed that her gradual return to work ("GRTW") plan was flawed and she was discriminated against on the grounds of disability in contravention of the BC Human Rights Code. In its decision, the Tribunal considered the duty to accommodate and held that, while the plan was not "perfect", the employer would be able to prove at a hearing that it reasonably accommodated Ms. Gaucher throughout her GRTW.

Wait, Employers Can’t Search Social Media? Privacy Law & Social Media in Hiring Decisions

Many (if not most) employers routinely check the social media profiles of job candidates. There are good business reasons for doing so. However, checking candidates’ social media is likely a breach of BC’s privacy legislation. In this post, we take a closer look at why the privacy legislation likely precludes social media searches during the hiring process.