5 Things your Canadian Employer Cannot Do That May Surprise You

Have you ever been praised by working longer hours in a week? Have you ever felt like you would be penalized in some way if you failed to achieve more than what is asked? Has your boss ever made you feel like if you say no to changes in work responsibilities you may lose your job, or at least be treated differently if you do?

Some of these feelings associated with an employer-employee relationship are common in the workplace. Because we live in a society that glamorizes work ethic, sometimes overworking is mistaken for hard work, which could lead to behaviours or decisions that are actually illegal.

There are many laws that an employer and employee must obey. Some of these laws are obvious, like failing to pay an employee termination pay or physical harassment in the workplace. In these cases, the employee knows to seek help from a lawyer because they are commonly addressed as illegal and unacceptable.

In other cases, there are laws that are less obvious to employees because they are not commonly advertised as illegal in the workplace. They are labeled as “unfair” or “not right” – but not illegal.

1. Demote an Employee

An employer cannot demote an employee at the workplace. Demoting an employee means heavily altering their work role and responsibilities to the extent where it no longer aligns with their original employment contract. This means that the employee could be offered a lower position, cut responsibilities, or even provided less pay.

In this case, there is the potential for an employee to blame themselves and therefore not seek legal help. This behaviour from an employer is not legal, and an employee can file a constructive dismissal claim if the role they accepted in their employment contract has been altered to their detriment.

2. Reduce Pay

An employer cannot legally reduce an employee’s pay, even if they are going through financial trouble.

With the spread of COVID-19, many businesses are struggling to get back on their feet and could be enduring a huge financial burden. It is important to note that as an employee, you should not accept less compensation than you were promised. Even if it is easy to empathize with your employer, they should not be asking to pay you less.

If the employer fails to provide proper compensation, the employee may file a constructive dismissal claim.

3. Fail to provide enough break time

It is against the law to not give an employee break time. At minimum, the employer must provide 30 minutes of break for every 5 hours of work. Not breaking does not equate to being more determined or ambitious. An employee must be given a 30-minute break completely uninterrupted, and if they are interrupted while on their break, they should be allowed to take another.

4. Alter hours

In most cases, an employer cannot change the number of hours or when an employee works. If you are an hourly employee that has agreed to working 5 hours three times a week from 9am -1pm and your employer changed your hours from 12 – 4pm, this would be considered a significant change to your work hours and is legally unacceptable. The employee may engage in a constructive dismissal claim for this change.

5. Force relocation

An employer cannot tell an employee they will be switching workplace locations if it significantly increases commute time or requires the employee to move. An employee can file a constructive dismissal claim if they are relocated and it doesn’t fall in line with what they initially agreed to in their employment contract.

If your employee has engaged in any of the above or if you want to ask whether the recent behaviour of your employer is legally acceptable, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.

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