Federal or provincial – are you certain which laws to follow?

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The complaint was dismissed as the arbitrator found he lacked jurisdiction over the complaint as SuperSave was bound to provincial laws. Even though SuperSave was owned and directed by Actton, a federal company, SuperSave was functionally distinct, located in Ontario and not a vital or essential part of the federal operation.

The arbitrator determined that in cases like this the proper test to apply is the functional integration test. This test was summarized as requiring some integrated activity or purpose of the otherwise local work or undertaking with the operations of the federal work or undertaking that is vital or essential.

The arbitrator found that a common commercial interest, sharing payroll, common human resources administration, or common direction and control were not enough for SuperSave to be bound to federal law.

Why is it important to apply the correct set of laws? Although in the Greaves case the Employer was able to use the jurisdictional confusion to its advantage to have the complaints dismissed, this same type of confusion can also create liability for employers.

The federal and provincial sets of laws that regulate the employment relationship have different standards. For example overtime and holiday provisions differ under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Canada Labour Code. Therefore, employers should be certain that the correct laws are being applied to avoid liability and to ensure that any disputes can proceed in the correct forum. 

The lawyers at CCPartners can assist employers in undertaking a legal analysis of the jurisdictional issues between federal and provincial legislation and can advise employers on how to comply with the appropriate set of labour and employment laws.

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