USA: Trump’ Extreme Immigration Vetting ~ Longer Wait for Perm. Residency, Immigrant Workers

 

It’s now official! On August 25, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that, as a part of President Trump’s “extreme vetting” directives, potential legal immigrant workers will be required to bear in-person interviews with USCIS.

This new interview requirement can apply to anyone moving from an employment-based visa to lawful permanent residency. The new mandate will also require visa holders who are relations of refugees or persons who receive asylum, to undergo an in-person interview after they apply for provisional statusa stage that precedes permanent residency.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have expressed that these interviews are “phased-in” beginning October 1, 2017. There is no additional guidance as to how long the phase-in period will be. USCIS will also take time in determining the impact that these new procedures will place on processing times.

Interviews are already a part of the immigration process, and, in the past, USCIS conducted them for ALL cases, which was their standard protocol.

However, decades past, USCIS started habitually waiving in-person interviews for employment-based cases at its field offices to avoid duplicating the efforts of USCIS Service Centers, that vetted the cases. Under this new policy, USCIS will not grant such waivers.

The added interview workload and necessary field office training will surely lengthen wait times for permanent resident applicants. Employers and staff ought to plan accordingly for these delays.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart

Advertisements

Canada Labour Code Amendments

http://lancasterhouse.com/

You may be aware that just a couple of months ago, specifically on June 22, 2017, Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No.1 received Royal Assent.

This Act makes a number of changes to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) that will impact federally regulated employers, both unionized and non-unionized.

Please note that a date has not yet been set for when these changes will become law.

A ‘GENERAL GUIDELINE’ TO THE PROPOSED KEY AMENDMENTS:

Administrative Monetary Penalties (Added to the Code)

  • Employers can now be penalized for up to and including $250,000 under this section, and any officer, director, agent, or any other person with managerial or supervisory roles can be held liable for the penalty.
  • The specific Code provisions to which these penalties apply, and therefore the specific penalties will be identified in future Regulations.
  • The deadline for issuing a Notice of Violation is 2 years from the day on which the subject-matter of the violation arose.

Complaints Relating to Reprisals (Added to the Code)

  • Employees will be able to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (the “CIRB”) if they believe that the employer has taken reprisals against them for making a complaint pursuant to Part III of the Code, providing information to the Minister, the CIRB, or an inspector in exercising their duties under Part III of the Code, OR testifying in a proceeding or inquiry pursuant to Part III of the Code.
  • Such reprisals include, among other things: dismissing, suspending, laying off or demoting the employee, or imposing a monetary burden or penalty on the employee.
  • The time period for filing a complaint of retaliation is 90 days.

Inspector Orders

  • The authority of inspectors has been expanded. Inspectors will now issue compliance orders if they find an employer has not complied with Code provisions on standard hours, wages, vacations, and holidays.

Internal Audit

  • The Minister of Labour could order an employer to conduct an internal audit of its books, payrolls, and other records to determine whether the employer is in compliance with the Code provisions on standard hours, wages, vacations, and holidays.
  • The Minister may order the audit report to contain any data that the Minister deems appropriate.
  • Once the audit is complete, employers must submit the audit report to the Minister.

Unjust Dismissal

  • Unjust dismissal complaints that are not settled will now be referred to the CIRB, instead of an adjudicator for determination.

Unpaid Leaves of Absence:

Employees with a Newborn or Adopted Child

  • Female employees will be permitted to begin their maternity leave up to 13 weeks before their due date, a 2week increase from the current 11 weeks.
  • Employees will be entitled to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to 63 weeks to care for newborn or adopted children, a big jump from the current 37 weeks.
  • The combined total of maternity and parental leave that one or two employees can take for the same birth or adoption will increase to 78 weeks, a considerable increase from the current 52 weeks.
  • The combined total of parental leave that two employees can take for the same birth or adoption will increase to 63 weeks from the current 37 weeks.

Employees with a Critically Ill Child or Family Member

  • The definition of those eligible to take a leave of absence to care for a critically ill child will be expanded beyond a parent to a family member of a critically ill child. The eligibility period (6 months of continuous employment) and length of absence (37 weeks) will remain the same.
  • Employees who have completed 6 months of continuous employment will be eligible for an unpaid leave of absence of up to 17 weeks to care for or support a critically ill adult family member.

Unpaid Wages Recovery

  • The period for recovering unpaid wages will be extended from 12 to 24 months.

Again, please keep in mind that a date has not yet been set for when these changes will become law.

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq.com, Lawson Lundell LLP

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

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Is your Firm ‘Connecting’ with You?

Engaged Employees

Connected employees will stay with their firms, become a dedicated advocate of the firm, as well as proactively seek out viable ways to create a positive difference by contributing in some way to the bottom line of the firm’ financial success.

Connected employees can typically achieve higher performance levels with results attributable to their natural dedication and motivation. Therefore, I suggest that there is a remarkable link between connected employees and corporate profit margins.

Employee ‘connectedness’, or engagement is crucial to organizations that seek to not only retain valued employees but truly engage with their staff at all levels, thus increasing its level of performance.

Major Factors of Connection

Many organizational factors influence connected employees & employee retention, such as:

  • A culture of value and respect where outstanding work is valued;
  • Easily accessible, consistent, and constructive feedback and mentoring;
  • Adequate office tools and equipment to complete work responsibilities;
  • Fair and proper reward, recognition and incentive programs;
  • Opportunity for advancement and professional growth;
  • Readily available, and effective leadership;
  • Clear and definitive job expectations, and
  • Generating a high level of motivation.

Do you know how Engaged & Connected your Employees are today?

The first step is to learn what the present level of employee engagement is. The simplest and most convenient tool to measure this component may well be a Comprehensive Employee Satisfaction Survey, which is widely used in our corporations today.

A well-crafted and administered satisfaction survey allows you to understand at which level of engagement your employees are operating. Customizable employee surveys can offer you with a place to begin in your efforts to optimize employee engagement.

The key to successful employee satisfaction surveys is to pay close attention to the feedback from your employees. Typically, this is the only way to identify their specific concerns and issues.

When divisional or firm leaders listen, employees respond by changing behaviour and consciously become perceptibly more engaged, resulting in increased productivity and employee retention.

Engaged employees are more likely to be content in their roles, stay with the company, and consistently strive for higher levels of performance, and ultimately, of course, a promotion.

I believe that listening to your employees’ concepts, and acting on their contributions, coupled with actively involving employees in the decision-making process, are all key factors in realizing the coveted reward of employee engagement.

Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

In this last section of ‘Remember to ‘Market your Soft Skills,’ I am going to assume that you have taken some time to consider your soft skills seriously, and what you have to offer your current or next employer, in concert with your professional credentials.

As I mentioned previously, more import is placed on a candidate’s soft skills of late, and this is true for both potential employers directly and Staffing Agencies. In some cases, a candidate with less experience will get the position based on his or her personality, presentation, and effective communications demonstrated during the interview(s).

The downside of this situation is of course remuneration, as it would be adjusted due to the difference in the educational and professional requirements specified for the role. However, the fact is that when a job candidate does land a role, he or she will learn how to be effective, moving forward when the opportune time arrives or is proactively sought out.

I have certainly witnessed the hiring of staff based on personality, where others have had more experience to offer, and I am confident that my readers can also relate to this scenario.

Now, let’s get to the core of this article, and review potential ‘transferable skills’, which could look like:

  • Good time & project management skills;
  • Ability to influence others;
  • Team player attitude;
  • Excellent listening skills;
  • Easily builds strong relationships; and
  • Strong organizational skills.

For example, let’s say a Home Depot salesperson desperately wants to get into the hospitality industry but has no prior experience to offer. The skills of a successful salesperson would of course easily transfer over to the hospitality industry for obvious reasons, and therefore, I say go for it!

I realize this is a very basic and elementary example, but I am sure you get my point. I believe that it comes down to ‘how you present’ in an interview, as I have stated in my previous articles. Your ’unique personal skills and attributes’ may look like:

  • Goes above and beyond;
  • Has a positive attitude;
  • Strong work ethic;
  • Quick study; and
  • Creative & Self-directed.

Of course, we all have something different to bring to the table, as it were. How we communicate our given skills is what matters, and what makes the difference when under pressure in situations such as job interviews and performance reviews.

Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 1 of 2)

When conducting a job search, whether internally or externally, it is natural to be anxious about our ‘hard’ skills such as computer programs knowledge; graphics programs, advanced Excel formulas, the Net, firm portals, and confidence with using social media/networking tools, etc. All of these skills are a requirement of any job within the corporate world today and are valuable skills to have.

In our current job markets, employers do not seem to be solely probing for appropriate levels of education, certification, and technical skills, but rather ‘soft skills’ which will immediately engage the person interviewing you, as well as the various groups you will be working with once on board.

Companies that are presently advertising positions are requesting much more than pre-recession, as they have deep considerations around employee retention, economic conditions, and the apprehensive anticipation of losing valuable employees, once the economy is on a better footing, and has stabilized.

It is a logical assumption that some firms could lose staff as the economy improves, as opportunities from competitors present themselves, and offers of higher compensation and benefits hold an obvious attraction, most definitely if the employee is feeling ‘disengaged’ from their current employer.

Putting aside your hard skills and academic background, for now, consider the soft skills you have to bring to the table. Target what you recognize as your ‘transferable’ and ‘unique personal soft skills’, which will work to your advantage as you continue on your job search journey.

Are these skills highlighted within the body of your Cap Profile and Resume, and noted in all of your cover letters? If not, make sure they are going forward, as it will stimulate positive outcomes for you.

I would urge you to speak with your professional references to learn if they are including your distinctive and valued soft skills in their referral communications. Where appropriate, ask them to please include these details on a go forward basis.

 

Please continue reading Part 2 of 2 here, Thank You!

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

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