Canada: Candidate Background Check Guidelines by Province

As we know, background screenings of job candidates are standard operating procedures (‘SOP’) of any employer’s recruitment process, helping to identify the best-qualified candidates, while managing potential risks related to a poor hiring decision.

There are many background checks that are commonly permissible in Canada, and the type of checks an employer may consider running depend on the nature of the position for which the candidate is being considered. The most widely used are those that relate to the academic, employment, criminal, and credit history of candidates.

Employers are of course eager to learn as much about a candidate as is possible, however, they must tread most cautiously. An improperly conducted background check – or a properly conducted one where data obtained is improperly used or even disclosed – will expose an employer to liability. This liability may cost an employer an inordinate amount in terms of both cost and professional reputation for such carelessness.

It is therefore crucial, that any background check is conducted in accordance with applicable provincial laws. Federally regulated employers must guarantee compliance with federal law. Both privacy and human rights legislation, in relevance to provincial law, exists at the federal level as well.

Human rights legislation exists in each of the Canadian jurisdictions we are addressing, and to the extent that an employer obtaining information related to ‘protected grounds’, cannot consider this information to be a factor in the ultimate hiring decision.

What must be kept in mind here is that privacy statutes and obligations differ among Canadian provinces when it involves personal employee information. Both impose important and necessary limitations on background checking with respect to what checks are conducted, and how the information collected may be legally used.

Fortunately for us, Blake Cassels and Mondaq have kindly provided this handy interactive map revealing the notable features in each province regarding privacy and human rights as they relate to this article.

For your convenience, I have provided the notable features information for ‘British Columbia’ as follows:

An employer may, without a candidate’s consent, collect personal information, IF the collection is for the “purposes of establishing an employment relationship.” However, before doing so, the employer must notify the candidate. Human rights legislation prohibits an employer from refusing to hire a candidate on the grounds that he or she was convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence if that offence is “unrelated” to the employment.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 2 of 2)

Cont’d from Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture  ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 1 of 2)

“We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day”, Sir Richard Branson

Other ideas that your Admin Team Leader(s) can explore requires strong negotiating skills in dealing with program vendors with regards to licensing matters. Ideally, this is where your IT department comes into play, as they will be able to offer a wealth of information on this subject, including sharing their direct contacts.

Speaking of your IT department, it is this group of specialists that will guarantee relevant services are provided on your firm portal, assuming your firm has one.

If your firm does not yet have a portal, I would suggest that your Team Leaders meet to work out the commonalities among the administrative body for this team’s specific training programs and coaching needs.

He or she can then speak to the IT team to establish what is plausible. Armed with this knowledge, they could then present their plan to their administrators and HR team for discussion and implementation approvals.

These ideas may well present a more attention-grabbing and engaging atmosphere for your employees to learn and grow, as opposed to the use of the conventional external training and coaching settings that are costly, and often take your employees off-site.

Another approach to ponder, used throughout our history, although considered a touch unorthodox, is the system of bartering firm services for the desired equipment, training, coaching, or another requirement.

For example, if you have a significant number of employees requiring a particular training or coaching, I would contemplate attempting an exchange of services where possible with the high-ticket external training and coaching companies.

Depending on your industry, this exchange could look like offering free advertising, notably reduced printing costs, accounting services, or a significant discount on a myriad of other professional services.

While this method requires clever negotiations skills, the results would surely prove worthy, while creating a win-win situation for each party.

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Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 1 of 2)

“We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day”, Sir Richard Branson

http://www.theclci.com/products_PMMS-BSC04.htm

 

If you have an influential Admin Team Leader in place for your department(s), you are most fortunate.

An effective Admin Team Leader will listen to all of your concerns about your role; perhaps as yet unattainable tools or equipment, and of course, learning and growth training that encourage your career advancement.

The Team Leader is your ‘go-to’ to express any job-related issues, whether that looks like an associate concern, workload issues, overtime, or what have you.

While a Team Leader shoulders many responsibilities, their chief role is to make sure their assigned teams are operating efficiently and effectively, and thus, have the right programs and tools at their disposal to work at peak performance levels consistently.

Naturally, discontented employees are not going to stick with their departments or any firm that does not offer a culture of opportunity. Firms not operating in this culture are sure to face real and expensive employee retention issues.

The Admin Team Leader, operating within the firm budget guidelines, must be resourceful in sourcing either internal or external coaching and training resources, and cost-effective tools for the firm, while still offering value for your administrative teams.

Depending on the scale of your firm, and the number of employees requesting (or requiring) coaching and training, your Admin Team Leader(s) may wish to consider:

  1. Sourcing experts inside the firm network to present talks to your team;
  2. Reaching out to firm mentors and coaches, to see if they would be willing to discuss the connected issues and programs together with your team; and
  3. Negotiating in-house contracts for knowledgeable, competent program trainers to keep costs down.

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Plan Do Check Act System: Employee Engagement

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The Plan Do Check Act system is an effective problem-solving technique that sets the foundation for a culture of continuous improvement.

All organizations face a myriad of challenges, particularly the larger firms. Whether or not they are big issues like elusive revenue targets, or efficiency-specific problems such as rework, following the ‘Plan Do Check Act’ system will help businesses implement effective solutions.

The key activities involved in each of these four stages of this straightforward system are outlined for you below.

PLAN

In this stage, identify the source of the problem and craft a solution. Conducting an intensive cause analysis is critical to any problem-solving initiative; allowing you to style a solution that may fix the issue, not merely cover it up.

Many tools can be used to conduct a root (or real) cause analysis. Two common tools that come to mind are fishbone diagrams (cause and effect) and the ‘5 whys’ (asking “why?” repeatedly until identifying the cause).

Once the cause of the problem is known and fully understood, choose and design the solution that best addresses it. Anticipate the impact following solution implementation, and make sure to collect the baseline information.

DO

In the Do stage, carry out the solution. To prepare for the implementation, create action and communication plans, and conduct a stakeholder analysis. Once these elaborated plans are in place, enforce it in the work area.

CHECK

In the Check stage, the results are reviewed to see if a solution has been reached and to quantify the benefits and advantages. Speak with the people directly involved in the change to get their opinion. Capture this new information, and compare it with the initial information to measure your gains.

ACT

In the Act stage, the amendment is incorporated into standard work, if no further enhancements are necessary. If moving forward with the final amendments, change any process documents accordingly, and communicate the permanent changes to all stakeholders.

If more improvements are required, apply the Plan Do Check Act system once more, until the changes can be incorporated into commonplace work practices.

While the above stages offer guidance on what activities need to take place, of equal importance is ‘how’ these steps are carried out, and how they are applied.

The most successful problem-solving initiatives actively engage employees at all levels throughout this process. Employees on the front lines, who do the work daily, have the foremost comprehensive understanding of where the problem areas are.

These employees know what solutions are going to be most effective, and what communication and coaching need to exist. By placing value on their comments, and basing solutions on their hands-on knowledge and ideas, organizations will carry out effective solutions for the longer term.

The Plan Do Check Act system is an effective problem-solving technique that sets the foundation for a culture of continuous improvement. Momentum will increase as employees learn to apply the new tools to their work areas — which of course is the goal for any organization seeking efficiencies through employee engagement.

Managing and Preventing Employee Fraud (Part 1 of 2)

Industries allocate billions of dollars each year to employee fraud, and no sector seems to be exempt from such frauds. It is vital to be aware of the potential for employee wrongdoings in your firm and to take steps to avoid them by isolating opportunities, and ensuring your internal controls are designed to deliver absolute maximum protection.

The most common types of employee fraud are:

  • Submitting fictitious invoices;
  • Paying personal expenses with firm funds;
  • Theft of receipts or cash on hand;
  • Payroll or expense compensation fraud; and
  • Altering or forging cheques.

These thefts often go undetected for periods between 8 and 36 months. Most often, employees who steal money work alone; and apparently, many of these employees have been with the firm for 3 years or longer.

HOW CAN YOU BEST MANAGE IT?

The best way to deal with employee theft is to keep it from happening in the first place. Doing so requires implementing sound internal controls, which might include:

Risk Assessment
Examine your firm’s policies, procedures, and processes for any weaknesses within the system at intervals for safeguarding integrity and ethics. Conduct a risk assessment every 2 years, or when there is a significant system modification or staff change (such as a new billing clerk).

Separation of Employee Duties
Avoid having just one employee in charge of purchasing and approving or adding vendors. Although it may be difficult to assign duties among several employees in smaller firms, it is imperative that you implement internal controls that let employees know they are likely to be caught if they try to steal.

In addition, cheques with invoices ought to be given to the proper party for approval and sign off. Likewise, if you are using an electronic bill payment system, only owner-partners should be authorized to approve payments.

Monitoring Employee Behavior
Look for telltale signs that an employee is involved with or considering fraud. For instance, an employee who never goes on vacation or takes a day off may not want another employee to have access to his or her files. To combat this behavior, implement a requirement that all employees take scheduled vacations, and cross-train staff members on each other’s duties and responsibilities…….

Please enjoy reading the balance of this article here. Thanks!


Supporting Article Research Sources: Ostrow, Reisin, Berk & Abrams Ltd., Mondaq.com

Managing and Preventing Employee Fraud (Part 2 of 2)

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS?

Revisit Your Hiring Process

First and foremost, criminal record checks should be a legal hiring requirement for all new hires as well as your current employees. However, keep in mind that nearly two-thirds of offenders are not prosecuted; therefore, their next employer may be unable to learn of their previous offenses.

It would also be prudent to undertake a thorough reference checking process, and if legally appropriate, include credit checks as well.

Contemplate Surprise Audits and Training

Employees should know that impromptu audits are likely to occur, however, they should not know what data will be under review. These audits do not need to be top-to-bottom reviews of the firm’s finances; instead, they need to target specific areas.

Additionally, overlapping financial records should be reconciled sporadically. As an example, compare receipts that are recorded in the billing system to revenues recorded in the accounting system, then cross-check those numbers with your bank deposits. Make certain someone other than the employee who prepares the records conducts the reconciliation.

Lastly, you may want to consider restricting employee computer access to only those computers, programs, and the electronic data required to perform their jobs efficiently.

Educate your staff about what constitutes fraudulent, illegal and unethical actions; their role in preventing and deterring fraud; and how to recognize the signs of prohibited behavior. Doing so will make them more likely to note suspicious behavior, and weaken their ability to defend themselves if they are caught in the act of defrauding the firm.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq.com, Ostrow, Reisin, Berk & Abrams Ltd.

Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 2 of 2)

…Continued from Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 1 of 2)

The second and last part of this article focuses on the Labour Relations Code’ impending changes.

LABOUR RELATIONS CODE

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the areas of the Labour Code where the government is contemplating change is geared to enhancing union powers and increasing union involvement in Alberta. Also, any changes are likely to lead to a more robust Alberta Labour Relations Board, in concert with broader legislative changes that will impact all unionized workplaces.

In particular, the government is considering whether to:

  • Mandate a “Rand formula” in collective agreements, which involves the obligatory payment of union dues regardless of a worker’s status (i.e., workers would no longer be able to opt-out of a union and avoid paying union dues where they benefit from the collective agreement);
  • Change the Labour Code’s definition of “employer” and “employee”, which could bind more successor employers to collective agreements;
  • Give employees greater freedom in choosing, changing, or cancelling union representation (i.e., the introduction of a “card check” system);
  • Make certain unfair labour practice allegations are subject to a reverse onus provision, thereby putting the burden on the employer to contest an employee’s accusation;
  • Broaden the Board’s mandate to adjudicate a wider range of workplace disputes;
  • Augment the Board’s power, procedures, and remedial options; and
  • Undertake a general review of the Labour Code to see where Alberta’s labour laws depart from the Canadian mainstream (in a way which the government determines is “without benefit”).

CONCLUSION

Given that the legislation is due for an update, and the NDP’ orientation towards improved rights for workers and unions, it seems likely that the changes to the Employment Standards and the Labour Code can occur throughout this term of the NDP’s mandate.

The government says these changes are necessary to offer a “family-friendly workplace”. What remains unclear, though, is the extent to which these changes can co-exist with a “business-friendly workplace” since many of the proposed changes tip heavily for employees and unions, while Alberta’s economy remains in a fragile state.

 

Article Research Sources: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Mondaq

Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 1 of 2)

Alberta’s NDP Government to shake up the province’s workplace legislation.

The Employment Standards Code (Employment Standards) and the Labour Relations Code (Labour Code) will be the subject of a brief public consultation (closing April 18, 2017) before the government assumes its review, and rolls out the significant primary changes to Alberta’s workplace laws not seen in decades.

As a matter of interest, Alberta’s workplace laws have remained the same for close to 30 years, while apparently provincial governments elsewhere in Canada have responded more quickly and readily to the changing dynamics of what the face of a modern workforce could, or should be.

Employment Standards and the Labour Code govern everything with respect to the employment relationship in Alberta’s workplaces (outside of federally regulated firms, and in addition to human rights and privacy legislation). The Labour Code regulates union work, and Employment Standards covers the non-union labour market.

The government says the forthcoming changes to Alberta’s workplace laws are actually “modest” and “not a full-scale review“. Still, many employers are most concerned about the consequences, particularly given the NDP’s policies for extending workers’ benefits, in addition to its long-standing union ties.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS

Employment Standards sets the minimum standards to which employers must adhere, including standards for hours of work and overtime requirements, vacation, maternity and paternity leave, general holidays and termination.

The government has not specified the precise changes it intends to make to Employment Standards. However, based upon a review of the government’s online consultation, employers may see the introduction of all, or any, of the following:

  • An increase in protected leaves (i.e., maternity, parental and compassionate care) and a reduction of employee tenure to realize eligibility for such leaves;
  • The creation of new unpaid protected leaves for personal short-term illness or injury, personal emergencies, and family responsibilities;
  • Changes to align protected leaves with the federal employment insurance program;
  • An increase in the banked overtime rate from 1:1 to 1:1.5 (i.e., employees can receive 1.5 hours of time off for each 1 hour of overtime banked);
  • Changes to the calculation of all compressed work week arrangements;
  • Stricter requirements on employers to give a mandatory paid or unpaid 30-minute break to employees for each five consecutive hours of work;
  • An increase in the instances that employees are entitled to general and Stat holiday pay;
  • Changes to the calculation of employee’s average daily wage;
  • New deductions from employee wages wherever the employee agrees to such deductions and receives a direct benefit in return (i.e., health and insurance packages, pay advances, meals, and lodging);
  • An increase in the opportunities for youth between 13 and 15 to gain employment;
  • New requirements on employers to notify the Minster of Labour when undertaking a group termination of 50 or more employees at one site within a four-week period (i.e., possibly including a notification to the affected employees and unions, not just the Minister); and
  • Enhanced tools for the government to enforce Employment Standards legislation, including the introduction of administrative and progressive penalties, increased fines, greater authority for employment standards officers, and publicly posting firm names that fail to satisfy judgments, or prove ongoing non-compliance.

 Please continue to read Part 2 here. Thank You!

Article Research Sources: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Mondaq

2017 Canadian Federal Budget Highlights

This article details the key points of the 2017 Federal Budget, tabled on March 22, 2017, by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Photo Source: thestar.com/The Canadian Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS BUDGET INCLUDED:

  • EI premiums increasing by 5¢ to $1.68 for every $100 of insurable earnings, – the maximum allowable increase under the current Employment Insurance Act.
  • The deficit is at $23B, down from $25.1B in the last fiscal update, and is projected to reach $28.5B for 2017-18 (including a $3B contingency fund) before declining to a projected $18.8B during 2021-22.
  • Phase out of the 71-year-old Canada Savings Bond program as it is no longer a cost-effective savings vehicle.
  • Higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco products: the excise duty rate on cigarettes goes up to $21.56 per carton from $21.03, while the rates on alcohol are going up by 2%. Both will be adjusted every April 1 beginning in 2018, based on the consumer price index.
  • The public transit tax credit, which allows the cost of transit passes to be deducted, will be eliminated effective July 1.
  • The budget dedicates $11.2B to cities and provinces for affordable housing over 10 years as part of the second wave of the government’s infrastructure program. $5B will be used to encourage housing providers to pool their resources with private partners to pay for new projects.
  • An “innovation and skills plan” to foster high-tech growth in 6 sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences, and clean resources.
  • $523.9M over 5 years to prevent tax evasion and improve tax compliance, including more auditors, a crackdown on high-risk avoidance cases, and better investigative efforts.
  • $7B in spending over 10 years for Canadian families, including 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces across Canada by 2019, extended parental leave and allowing expectant mothers to claim maternity benefits 12 weeks before their due dates.
  • $2.7B over 6 years for labour market transfer agreements with the provinces and territories to modernize training and job supports, to help those looking for work to upgrade skills, gain experience, start a business, or engage in employment counseling.
  • A national database of all housing properties in Canada, known as the Housing Statistics Framework, to track details on purchases, sales, demographics, and financing, as well as foreign ownership.
  • $400M over 3 years through the Business Development Bank of Canada for a “venture capital catalyst initiative” to ensure more venture capital is available to Canadian entrepreneurs.
  • A comprehensive spending review of “at least 3 federal departments”, to be named later, to eliminate waste and inefficiencies, as well as a 3-year review of federal assets, and an audit of existing innovation and clean-tech programs.
  • $59.8M over 4 years, beginning in 2018-19, to make student loans and grants more readily available for part-time students, and $107.4M over the same period to help students with dependent children.
  • $287.2M over 3 years, starting in 2018-19, for a pilot project to facilitate adult-student access to student loans and grants.
  • $225M over 4 years, starting in 2018-19, for a new organization to support skills development and measurement.
  • $395.5M over 3 years for the Youth Employment Strategy.

Also on a positive note, this budget suggested no changes to our ‘corporate tax rates’, as well as no changes made to the eligibility criterion for the ‘Small Business’ rate.

For your convenience, you may also wish to watch and share an informative 90 second video also provided at this link.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: The Toronto Star, The Canadian Press

Canada: Bill 26, Accommodation and Paid Leave ~ Domestic Violence

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As you may be aware, December 6th marked Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women and Girls.

 

In fact, studies suggest that 54% of domestic and sexual violence victims have confronted abuse at or in near to their place of business, placing significant stressors on performance, attendance, and overall physical and mental health. Naturally, employers also feel the effects of the domestic violence dilemma.

Statistics Canada has said that incidents of domestic violence cost Canadian employers very close to $78 million annually. A new bill aimed at addressing these issues is currently progressing through the Ontario legislature.

If passed, Bill 26 (the Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016), would amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 [the “ESA“], allowing employees to take up to 10 days of paid leave per year if they, or their children, are victims of domestic or sexual violence. Although this pay may well be capped at 10 days, employees would be entitled to leaves of a “reasonable length” to seek medical attention, psychological counselling, community services, and/or legal assistance. Employees would also be entitled to take time off work to relocate, where the purpose of such relocation is to reduce the chance of future violence.

Employers would also be required to offer impacted employees with reasonable accommodation, such as reduced work hours, schedule modifications, or changes to the place of work. As is the standard elsewhere in the ESA, employers would only be required to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship.

Bill 26 also proposes amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The proposed changes could require that managers, supervisors, and workers take part in mandatory training on the warning signs, impacts, and risks of domestic and sexual violence in the workplace.

On October 20, 2016, Bill 26 passed second reading with the unanimous support of the Ontario legislature. It has now been referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Norton Rose FullbrightMondaq

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