The legal landscape for the employer can seem remote. If you are not in a position where you immediately require a lawyer, the thought of how to hire one or when to seek legal advice rarely, if ever, reaches the top of your priority list. In many instances, hiring a lawyer can simplify matters, create clarity for you and your employees and prevent disputes before they happen. Listed below are some common reasons why employers reach out to Niagara employment lawyers.
Firing an employee
When firing an employee, cause can be the difference between a smooth dismissal and an employee’s pursuit of legal action. Consulting with a lawyer prior to termination can add peace of mind or reveal vulnerabilities in your reasoning, documentation and adherence to labour and employment laws. Having a firm and defined cause of dismissal that is supported by applicable evidence as to the employee’s cause for termination is important. Your lawyer can assist you in ensuring that all of your reasoning, documentation and actions are compliant with Ontario labour and employment laws.
It is important to determine the proper classification of the employment relationship as a position may be considered exempt or nonexempt, depending on whether the employment relationship is that of an independent contractor or employee. Improper classification or identification of a group or position can come with big fines and balances owing in the form of employee and employer contributions associated with payroll. To avoid these consequences and unplanned expenses, a discussion with your lawyer about your intentions can provide quick clarity and allow you to make sound decisions that are both in the best interest of your business and in line with the labour and employment laws in Ontario.
Changes to employee expectations
Other sweeping changes that may be cause for a visit with your lawyer are layoffs, especially when the layoff will impact a large number of employees. Changes to benefit plans, pension plans or the discontinuation of those programs can also incite legal action. In these and related instances it is wise to consult your employment lawyer for legal advice.
Reviewing Contracts and Documents
Many companies operate with loose contracts in place for their employees, perhaps found on the internet or repurposed from a friend’s company or former employer. In the matter of employee contracts, it is crucial to ensure that you are protected as the employer. Your employment contract should be designed to be a fair agreement between yourself and your employees while ensuring strict adherence to Ontario labour and employment laws.
Policies and handbooks
Every business should maintain an up-to-date employee handbook that clearly outlines expectations and guidelines about conduct, performance, attire and related issues in the workplace. This handbook should align with the employment laws in Ontario while working to create the opportunity for adherence by each employee in the workplace. It is advisable for a lawyer to review this document because this handbook and its contents may be the basis upon which you determine cause for dismissal in the event that you are dissatisfied with an employee’s performance.
In the event that you have a lawsuit filed against you and/or your company by a former employee, you need an employment lawyer to represent you in court. These lawsuits can be complex, and your lawyer will quickly take action to ensure that your rights are protected and you are positioned to defend your business against the allegation, meeting the necessary deadlines and requirements of the process.
Claims and complaints
An employee may make a claim against your business for discrimination, harassment or other related issues. Typically these claims are made to the Ontario Human Rights Commission or the Ministry of Labour. It is advisable to consult a lawyer immediately upon learning of the allegations, and important to hire a lawyer in the instances listed below:
- Employee claims are of a severity that could result in large damages claims against you and your business.
- You have had similar claims made against you or your business in the past.
- Employee has indicated that they plan to hire a lawyer or have hired a lawyer
In the event that you require an St. Catharines employment lawyer, it is important to reach out before an issue has escalated out of your control. The early intervention of a Niagara employment lawyer can minimize the escalation of the issue, and often mitigate the risk of a lawsuit, expensive fines and/or damages, and create peace of mind for you as the business owner. Connect with one of the lawyers from our labour and employment practice to address you employment matters.