Agenda

September 8, 2021, 8:15 AM - 3:30 PM MT

ELAW-Agenda-CPD-5HRS

5 CPD hours

8:15 - 8:55 am

Registration

8:55 - 9:00 am

Opening remarks from key media

9:00 - 9:25 am

Alberta workplace standards and legislative update in health

Changes to workplace employment standards and rules in Alberta, temporary or otherwise, have been continually revised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This short session will provide an update on some of the important developments that employers need to be aware of, as well as what to expect in the months ahead.

  • New measures and updates to the Employment Standards Code
  • Changes to paid sick leave rules and regulations
  • Emergency leave, temporary layoffs, and changes to hours/work week
  • Health and safety standards and workplace inspections

Dr. Katy Kamkar, Ph.D., C. Psych

Clinical Psychologist , Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

9:30 - 10:10 am

A guide for employers on the legal parameters of vaccinations in the workplace

With much of the population now in the process of getting their final vaccinations, employers will need to assess how this will impact their office environment and how to deal with employees who remain unvaccinated. Can employers mandate that workers are vaccinated as a condition of employment? What factors should determine how employers respond if employees refuse vaccines? How does this impact their potential liabilities?

  • Case law and provincial guidelines impacting vaccines in the workplace
  • Privacy considerations and what information employers can request
  • Liability and other risks in voluntary vaccine settings
  • Disciplinary issues for non-vaccinated employees
  • Can organizations incentivize vaccinations?

Ayla Akgungor

Partner , Field Law

10:15 - 10:50 am

Mitigation techniques for reducing constructive dismissal and other legal claims in employment contracts

The economic fallout of the pandemic and disruptions to business operations have created more challenges for employers as they adapt workforce needs to changing business requirements. Employers may need to update their employment contracts to reflect recent court decisions and legislation, to mitigate potential constructive dismissal and other legal claims. What are the key contractual considerations employers need to be aware of to protect themselves? How might recent case law decisions impact their employment contracts going forward?

  • What qualifies as constructive dismissal in the workplace?
  • Impact of Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd and other recent case law developments
  • How can employers change working conditions without the risk of constructive dismissal?
  • How can employers make workforce changes without amending current employment contracts?
  • What do employers need to consider in their contracts for new hires?

Will Cascadden

Partner , Gowling WLG

10:50 - 11:05 am

Networking Break

11:05 - 11:40 am

Update on mental health and human rights accommodation in the workplace

The pandemic's continual impact on workplaces has introduced more complex mental health challenges and related issues for organizations. Whether dealing with chronic absenteeism or a refusal to work, employers need to be mindful of their duty to accommodate. What types of mental health challenges are employers facing, and how should they respond? What proactive steps do employers need to take to ensure they are properly accommodating employees' mental health needs before issues arise?

  • Employers’ legal duties with respect to human rights and mental health accommodation
  • How can employers avoid the risk of wrongful termination claims?
  • Employers’ duty to enquire and other mental health obligations
  • Mental and psychological conditions related to COVID, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression
  • Practical issues when it comes to accommodating employees in a hybrid work setting

Dan Bokenfohr

Partner , McLennan Ross LLP

11:45 - 12:30 pm

Panel discussion: Workplace health and safety: Navigating your obligations in the new reality

As employees slowly transition back to the office, employers will be confronted with various practical challenges as to how best to reintegrate them while ensuring a safe and healthy office setting. What are some of the issues employers need to consider in the post-COVID workplace? How has the current context greatly increased the complexity of health and safety regulations, and what does this mean for HR professionals?

  • Overview of provincial health and safety standards, emergency orders and municipal by-laws
  • Types of health and safety issues and requirements for remote workers
  • How to best enforce on-site health and safety protocols and practices
  • Nuances of work refusals due to ‘unsafe conditions’
  • How to reconcile social interactions with safety considerations in the office

Moderator:

David Law

Principal , LAWatWORK

Panelists:

Shilo Neveu

EVP, Health, Safety, Environment and Quality , Valard

Nhi Huynh

Managing Lawyer , Achkar Law

Cristina Wendel

Partner , Dentons Canada LLP

12:30 - 1:00 pm

Lunch Break

1:00 - 1:35 pm

Bullying, harassment and toxic workplace environments: What is an employer’s legal duty?

All employees have a right to a workplace free from the threat of bullying and harassment. Recent legislative changes and current requirements mean employers need to have policies and protocols in place, as well as to investigate and address a situation when an incident occurs. What are an organization’s obligations under current provincial standards and guidelines? What proactive measures can employers take to ensure a safe and tolerant work environment?

  • Overview of human rights and provincial and federal regulations
  • How to legally define and identify workplace bullying and harassment
  • How to update policies and protocols to reflect current legal requirements
  • Steps in conducting a workplace investigation when an incident occurs
  • COVID’s impact on negative workplace behaviour

Christopher Spasoff

OHS Lawyer , F2 Legal Counsel

1:40 - 2:20 pm

Workplace terminations: What are the new boundaries employers need to be aware of?

Terminations due to poor performance or chronic absenteeism can be a lengthy and difficult process for many organizations. Further, recent court decisions mean an increased risk of wrongful termination claims for employers, which can lead to higher severance payments and damages. What can employers do to better protect themselves during the termination process? How might changes in their contract drafting help mitigate future liabilities?

  • Terminations and termination clauses in the context of COVID – impact on severance payments
  • How to deal with chronic absenteeism, work refusals and poor performance
  • How to manage the termination process: Performance reviews and disciplinary actions
  • Tips for drafting enforceable termination clauses to minimize liability
  • How can employers mitigate their risk going forward?

Panelists:

Gordana Ivanovic

Counsel , McMillan LLP

2:20 - 2:40 pm

Networking Break

Breakout session: ‘Ask the experts’ panel


Have a question or comment for our panel of employment law experts? Join this short question and answer session for the answers to your most important HR and employment law queries

Panelists:

Gordana Ivanovic

Counsel , McMillan LLP

Dan Bokenfohr

Partner , McLennan Ross LLP

2:40 - 3:15 pm

Diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace

With a greater focus by all stakeholders on the increased importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, employers need to mindful of their legal obligations as they institute workplace changes, policies and protocols. How can organizations develop effective programs and achieve positive outcomes while also complying with their employment law requirements? What effect does a hybrid work environment have on an organization's effort to promote a more equitable and inclusive workforce?

  • Provincial and federal standards and regulations that are critical for employers
  • How to integrate D&I goals and objectives into the recruitment and hiring process
  • Types of data employers can ask for and collect from employees
  • How to integrate goals and objectives into performance reviews
  • Practical advice for achieving positive outcomes

Alex Ihama

Executive Director , Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity

3:15 pm

Closing remarks and conclusion of the program

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