As an employer in Canada, it is essential that you ensure your workplace is safe and secure for all your employees. However, even if you take the appropriate measures to keep your establishment functional and cooperative, there will be situations when you receive complaints of harassment, violence, or other similar incidents from your employees.
If you or your employees witness harassment in the workplace, you must conduct a workplace investigation. For instance, if there are comments about weight, screaming or shouting, discriminatory behavior or remarks, cyber-bullying, and offensive jokes are some of the forms which fall under this category. As this classification is broad, you have to place yourself in the shoes of a reasonable person, and see if the comments were acceptable.
If there is any form of sexual harassment, it becomes crucial you conduct workplace investigation immediately. One type of sexual harassment is an individual making advances or solicitation against your employee, as this person has the power to deny employment opportunities. Another form of sexual harassment is when an individual makes comments against your employee due to his/her sexual orientation, sex, or on other similar grounds.
If an individual indulges in workplace violence, such as using physical force to hurt or attempt to injure your employee calls for workplace investigation. Even if a person behaves or makes statements which suggest the use of physical force to harm an employee falls under workplace violence.
Essential tips for employers conducting workplace investigations
As the entire process is stressful, you need to make sure you hold the workplace investigation properly. Use these tips to ensure there are no problems during the procedure:
- Make sure the interviewers speak to all individuals who know about the incident.
- Irrespective of whether the meeting is informal or formal, you should document every stage of workplace investigations, without fail.
- When you are taking action, make sure you explain the situation to all the parties involved in the investigation.
- If the parties continue to remain your employees after the investigation, ensure you follow up to understand if the action produced the right results. Also, check up on the complainant to see if the individual is comfortable with your workplace.
Why do you need lawyers for conducting workplace investigations?
When you have to conduct a workplace investigation, it is crucial you do so in the presence of lawyers who are experts in this field. Although it may not be necessary, experienced individuals will add more weight to the investigation.
One of the most common questions every employee has is whether it is possible to sue the employer. As long as you are not a unionized worker, you can take your employer to court.
What should you do as a unionized employee?
When you are in a union, you need to get in touch with the representative or shop steward to know what is the course of action. In this situation, you have to go through the grievance process, which is a part of the collective agreement.
The representatives are the ones who are responsible for resolving the problems with your employer. However, if you do believe that they could have taken different steps to handle the grievance, you can file an administrative complaint against them.
What if you are not a unionized employee?
If the employer violates the obligations and duties that come under the human rights and employment law, you can take them to court. Before you approach a lawyer, try to negotiate with the employer, to see if both parties can come to a mutual agreement. However, if your situation remains the same, despite your best efforts to bring your grievance to light, you should file a lawsuit.
When is the right time to take action against your employer?
Keep in mind that you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer, only because you are unhappy with your life in the workplace. Take action, if you face the following situations in your workplace:
Under Canadian law, if you suffer from discrimination by your employer, it is possible to file a lawsuit against them. For instance, if they denied a raise in your salary or promotion due to your gender, ethnicity, or religion, you should get in touch with a lawyer.
While sexual harassment is the most common type employees face in the workplace, there are other forms. For example, if you face harassment from a supervisor, client, or coworker, you can ask your employer to take the appropriate action. If the situation remain the same, despite bringing it to the attention of higher authorities, you can file a lawsuit.
Employees tend to have an unpleasant relationship with their employers if they get fired due to various reasons. However, if you believe the employer dismissed you under illegal or unlawful purposes, you have the option of suing them.
If you want to take action against your employer because you believe they didn’t follow the law, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible!
Severance pay is a type of compensation you receive from your employer, for losing your job. Excluding construction workers, everyone in Canada has the entitlement to receive severance pay, due to the common law severance.
However, there are certain circumstances which disqualify you from receiving compensation from your employer. For example, if your contract talks about termination clause which states that you will receive a type of severance, you cannot claim it under common law severance. Also, do keep in mind that termination pay or pay in lieu of notice is different from severance pay.
When do you qualify for severance pay?
To qualify for severance pay, it is important you meet the following requirements:
- The employer terminated your employment.
- You have been working with the said employer for at least five or more years.
- The employer pays $2.5 million or more as wages.
- A minimum of 50 people lost their jobs during six months, as a portion or the entire business closed down permanently.
How much severance pay will you get?
According to the Canadian laws, you should get severance pay worth a week’s wages for every year you worked with the employer. The maximum compensation you can receive has a cap of 26 weeks.
The amount you receive as severance pay from the employer depends on several factors. For instance, your age, qualifications, training, experience, character, length of service, and salary play a role in deciding your compensation.
At the same time, there are other criteria, which also come into consideration. For example, if you are going to find it difficult to get similar employment due to lack of university degree in your field, it will become a factor in determining your severance pay. Also, if the employer promised to give you secure and long-term employment, it will be taken into consideration.
Can you get severance pay even if you are employed?
Irrespective of whether you are working under a new employer or not, you will receive severance pay. However, if you do find a job before the settlement, then it will reduce the amount you receive. Due to this reason, it is better to resolve the severance pay, before looking for a new job.
As it is confusing to navigate the world of severance pay in Canada, hiring the services of a lawyer is a great decision. The legal advisor will go through your contract to determine how much compensation you have to receive from the employer!