Legal experts reveal what employers must learn

Legal experts reveal what employers must learn

Legal experts reveal what employers must learn More than 150 HR insiders have a greater understanding of how to navigate complex legal issues affecting their workplaces after attending the Employment Law Masterclass in Toronto on Monday.

Delegates gained insights from legal experts into the evolving landscape of accommodations, labour law changes, and preparing for marijuana’s legalization.

The event’s chair, Aird & Berlis partner Lorenzo Lisi, said the event was an important opportunity for HR professionals to learn and ask questions about the legal issues affecting their organizations.

“Employers across the country really do need guidance, practical guidance, on the issues that face them on a day to day basis, from a legal perspective – particularly in the areas of labour and employment law.

“They’re complex, there’s legislation that’s being passed in many provinces – particularly in Ontario recently – and just the practical assistance: how do we deal with these as an HR professional, how we do we stay out of trouble, but more how can we be proactive, how can we help our employees while still managing the business?”

Lisi says accommodations are one of the biggest issues for which employers are seeking legal advice.

“Ensuring that employees are accommodated appropriately, but also within the boundaries of the law, and the operations of the business – that’s a big deal.”

As a major point of concern for HR professionals, mental health was a theme that ran throughout the day-long conference.

Dawn Yearwood, vice president of operations at Acclaim Ability Management, moderated a panel discussion with Erin Kuzz, name partner at Sherrard Kuzz, and Matthew Certosimo, partner at Borden Ladner Gervais, discussing how employers can best balance empathy and risk-mitigation when it comes to disciplining an employee with mental health issues.

Addressing the ever-challenging area of mental health-related accommodations, Lisa Cabel, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, urged HR professionals to “communicate effectively” with employees, and to not shy away from asking further questions to establish the basis for an employee’s accommodation request.

Lorna Cuthbert, partner at Stikeman LLP, gave an update on accommodations relating to disabilities, with an emphasis on why employers must ensure they meet their procedural duty to accommodation – an area she says “still surprises” some employers and HR professionals.

Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti partner Meaghen Russell spoke on on recent developments in family status accommodations, sharing insights into what employers can – and should – request from an employee who’s seeking an accommodation for eldercare or childcare.

Stephen Shore, partner at Ogletree Deakins International, gave an update on Ontario’s labour law changes, and how those will affect employers well beyond the $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Delegates also heard from Muneeza Sheikh, partner at Levitt LLP, on how to ensure their termination clauses are enforceable, and from Holly Reid, partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon, on how to prepare for marijuana legalization.

Related stories: What can HR ask about mental health?

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