2020 Agenda


Employment Law Vancouver is pre-approved for 7 CPD hours.

8:00 am

Registration and networking

8:50 am

Welcome Remarks from Conference Chair

Stephanie Vellins

Partner, Harris & Co LLP

9:00 am

Bill 8 – Significant Updates to B.C. Employment Standards Act

The Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019 (“Bill 8”) has increased the responsibilities of employers. This session will provide an overview of what these updates are and how to better prepare your organization for new ESA standards.

  • Tougher restrictions on youth employment – what they mean for your organization
  • Amendments to statutory leaves under the ESA
  • Changes to collective agreements – what are the new requirements?
  • New rules relating to tips or gratuities

Richard Johnson

Partner, Kent Employment Law

9:45 am

Latest Changes to Canada Labour Code – Bill C-86

The momentum has shifted towards the labour movement in British Columbia with changes in provincial labour laws coming into effect in fall 2019. B.C.'s labour code was established in 1973 and hasn't undergone a major public review in almost three decades. In this session, we will cover: 

  • Employers to understand what changes are required to their policies, practices and how to best implement those
  • How to address employee leave and parental sharing benefits
  • Addressing new hours of work and new employee entitlements under the updated Code
  • Preparing terminator of employees in accordance with the latest changes in the Labour Code

Jennifer Fantini

Partner, Labour & Employment, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

10:30 am

Networking coffee break

Hosted by:
11:00 am

Would Your Termination Clause Stand Up in Court? Case Law Update 

Without an enforceable and well-drafted termination provision, employers can be liable for hefty pay outs under common law. This session will provide an overview of recent case law and best practices for drafting enforceable termination clauses to minimize your organization’s exposure.

  • How to minimize employer liability upon termination
  • Ensuring your termination provisions comply with the ESA
  • When would courts award more than 24 months’ notice to employees under common law?
  • Lessons from Dussault v Imperial Oil Limited, 2018 Terminating long-term employees – lessons from Dawe, 2018
  • To what extent should termination clauses go beyond statutory minimums? Clarifying severance pay obligations
  • Is an employer’s global payroll considered in determining an employee's entitlement to severance pay under the ESA?
  • Determining accurate severance packages to avoid litigation risks

Nicole Howell

Partner, HHBG Lawyers

11:30 am

Managing, Disciplining and Terminating Long Term Absent Employees

HR professionals should tread carefully when handling employees who are absent for long periods of time. While employers have a common law right to terminate, that right is curtailed by human rights obligations to accommodate to the point of hardship. An expert will provide guidance on where to draw the line.

  • How long are you obliged to keep a role open for an absent employee?
  • When can you replace an employee who is absent for long periods?
  • Which types of long-term leave are protected under the ESA?
  • How far does the duty to accommodate extend when dealing with chronically ill employees?
  • When can you demand an employee undertake an independent medical examination?
  • How and when should you consult with long term absent employees
  • What constitutes termination on the basis of frustration due to illness or injury?
  • When is the employer liable for payment of statutory notice and severance under the ESA?

Richard Johnson

Partner, Kent Employment Law

12:15 pm

Networking lunch

1:15 pm

Managing Cannabis Challenges in the Workplace

Over one year of after legalization, we will provide practical guidelines for dealing with complex workplace situations involving cannabis and accommodation, benefits and impairment. During this session, we will cover:

  • Dealing with employees who breach drug and alcohol policies relating to cannabis
  • Accommodating an employee who claims disability on the basis of cannabis dependency
  • Knowing what to do when an employee in a safety-sensitive position is prescribed medical cannabis
  • Discussing the latest testing tools measuring the extent of cannabis-related impairment
  • Reviewing International Brotherhood Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers' Assn. Inc. v IBEW, Local 1620 (Tizzard), Re, 2018 CarswellNfld 198 and Vancouver Drydock Co. v. Marine Workers and Boilermakers Industrial Union, Local 1 (C.L. Grievance), 2018 BCCAAA No. 34 (McPhillips)

Michael Kilgallin

Partner, Roper Greyell LLP

1:50 pm

Accommodation: Investigating and Handling Accommodation Requests

Although HR departments generally have good intentions when managing employees who have disabilities, extra care should always be taken to comply with human rights legislation and best practice.

  • Step-by-step guide to investigating and evaluating requests for accommodation
  • Privacy obligations when handling requests relating to mental health and addiction
  • Lessons from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 636 v Tyco Integrated Fire and Security Canada Inc 2018
  • Ensuring that you don’t inadvertently stigmatizing employees who have disabilities
  • To what degree should you involve employees and medical practitioners in the process of accommodation?
  • What evidence should be provided support an accommodation plan?

Lynsey Gaudin

Partner, Labour and Employment, MLT Aikins LLP

2:30 pm

Employees Behaving Badly: Serious Misconduct and Criminal Acts at Work

What legal options do you have if you suspect that your employee is breaking the law? This session will draw on principles of common law, human rights law, privacy law, occupational health and safety law and criminal law to guide you through the intricate process of investigating workplace misconduct.

  • Misconduct bordering on criminality – when to bring in the police
  • When can an employer suspend an employee while investigating serious misconduct?
  • Should disciplinary action be put on hold pending the outcome of criminal proceedings?
  • What can do to reduce the risk of prejudicing a subsequent criminal trial?
  • What legal rights do alleged criminal perpetrators have in the workplace?

Nicole Byres

Partner, Miller Thompson LLP 

3:15 pm

Networking coffee break 

Hosted by:
3:45 pm

Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

Employers have specific legislative (as well as moral) obligations to address and prevent harassment including sexual harassment, and bullying in the workplace. This session will discuss the legal aspects of workplace bullying and harassment.

  • Legal definition of workplace harassment and bullying
  • Overview of relevant legislation: Workers Compensation Act, BC Human Rights Code
  • Obligations of employer – policy statement and complaint procedure
  • Compensable “mental disorder” under s.5.1 of Workers Compensation Act
  • Harassment and bullying vs. discipline

Marylee Davies

Partner, Farris LLP

4:25 pm

Wrongful, Unjust and Just Cause Dismissals

An expert will take you through the latest developments relating to unjust, wrongful, illegal and constructive dismissals.

  • Hardball tactics - the high cost of bad faith in terminating an employee - Ruston v. Keddco MFG (2011) Ltd
  • Unjust dismissals in breach of the Canada Labour Code
  • Illegal dismissals as reprisals for enforcing rights provided by the Employment Standards Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Risks of pursuing counterclaims against employees when they sue for wrongful dismissal
  • When does heavy-handed and insensitive management constitute constructive dismissal?
  • When will a just cause dismissal be upheld for safety violations?
  • How much protection does a signed release really provide against claims by employees?

Lorene Novakowski

Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

5:00 pm

Conference concludes

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