Video Surveillance in the Workplace – Big Brother Boss?

From financial institutions to factories, video surveillance is common in many workplaces. It is especially prevalent in places where there is inventory or cash. Deterring harassment, theft and vandalism are just some of the reasons an employer may want to monitor their employees. However, the Canadian justice system has not been particularly tolerant toward employers who video monitor their employees without good faith or cause.

The Rules of Video Surveillance in the Workplace

In Canada, employees have a general right to privacy at the workplace, like in any other public space, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise in their employment contract. Accordingly, an employee would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in an open lobby but would in a locker room.

Well defined workplace policies should be your first defence against employee misconduct. Video surveillance in the workplace should be the option of last resort. Less invasive means of monitoring issues of suspected criminal activity, harassment, or violence should also be pursued before installing cameras. Only once other options for deterring suspected or known inappropriate behaviour have been exhausted should video surveillance be considered.

Is Video Surveillance In A Workplace Legal?

There are many external factors, such as whether a workplace is unionized, that can also contribute to determining if video surveillance in a workplace is legal and legitimate. Based on a multitude of court rulings concerning workplace video surveillance and employee privacy rights, the following conditions should be demonstrated when installing video surveillance systems:

  • There must be a legitimate concern that an offence is being committed and that installing cameras will be an effective approach to solving this problem.
  • Except for rare circumstances, it is necessary to alert employees to surveillance practices and obtain their consent. Individuals should be able to know who is watching what and to what end.
  • Surveillance should monitor a particular area suspected of improper activity and for a determined period of time. However, surveillance must not single out a specific employee. The expanse of surveillance should be limited as much as possible. General surveillance for an indefinite time is usually considered unacceptable.
  • Surveillance should be conducted with a specific purpose and only used for said purpose.
  • Signs alerting employees and visitors to surveillance cameras should be prominently displayed.
  • Adhere to PIPEDA legislation regarding employees’ privacy and access to information.

Video Surveillance In The Workplace – Legal Experts

To avoid infringing upon your employee’s privacy rights, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer before installing any surveillance measures in the workplace. KCY at LAW can help you to develop fair and legal employee monitoring systems. To find out more give us a call now on (905) 639-0999 or contact us online!

Vacation Entitlements for Ontario Workers

Summer is well underway. And, as we Ontarians relish the last of these wonderful sweet sticky months we thought now might be as good a time as any to talk about vacations. While it might be too late to secure time at that cute Airbnb cottage before labour day, we hope this short guide will answer some common questions about vacation time and vacation pay.

I started a new job, when can I take my first vacation?

Unfortunately, not any time soon. Employees are only entitled to vacation time after a full year of employment with the same employer. Yes, this means you can wait over a year before taking two weeks off to rest and relax.

The good news is that after five years of continuous employment (this includes time spent on job-protected leaves of absence such as parental leave or medical leave), employees are entitled to three weeks of vacation time.

How is vacation pay calculated?

For employees with less than five years of continuous employment with the same employer, vacation pay is at least 4% of your gross wages earned in your 12 month vacation entitlement year. For employees with five or more years continuous employment, vacation pay must be at least 6% of your gross wages. Vacation pay is usually paid to an employee as a lump sum before they take their earned vacation time.

Gross wages include regular earning and commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, public holiday pay and termination pay. It does not include tips and gratuities.

If you do not finish a vacation entitlement year you are not entitled to vacation time, but you are entitled to the vacation pay you have accrued for the time you worked.

What is a vacation entitlement year?

According to the government of Ontario, a vacation entitlement year is “the 12-month period over which employees earn vacation.” This includes time that an employee is away from work due to injury or illness, a layoff, or an approved leave of absence.

Normally, an employee’s vacation entitlement year begins on their first day of employment. This means that an employee who begins work on May 1st, 2019 will be entitled to two weeks of vacation time as of May 1st 2020.

It is also common for employers to give employees an alternative vacation entitlement year that coincides with the calendar year. In such cases, the employee is entitled to a pro-rated amount of vacation time for the stub period between the start of their employment and the beginning of the vacation entitlement year.

When can I take vacation?

Vacation time must be taken within 10 months of completing a vacation entitlement year. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees take their vacation time before the end of this 10-month period. While employees can usually ask for specific time off, your employer ultimately has the right to schedule when you take your vacation time.

Furthermore, vacation must be taken in blocks of one of more weeks, rather than individual days unless specifically requested by the employee.

Call us today to book your consultation at 905-639-0999 or connect with us online by filling out a consultation request form.

Bereavement Leave in Ontario

In a previous post we wrote about employees’ rights regarding bereavement leave. However, with the change of the Ontario provincial government, things have also changed with regards to employee’s bereavement leave entitlements.

Bereavement Leave Entitlements Under Bill 148

Bill 148 gave all employees 10 days of personal emergency leave per year, the first two of which had to be paid. These ten days could be used as needed for illness, bereavement, caring for a sick child etc.

Bereavement Leave Entitlements under Bill 47

Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open for Business Act – separated Bill 148’s personal emergency leave entitlements in to three separate leaves: sick leave, family responsibility leave and bereavement leave. Under Bill 47 each leave is allocated a specific number of days that are independent of all other leaves.

As of January 1, 2019, employees may take up to two days of bereavement leave for the death of the following family members: spouse, parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse, the spouse of your child, your brother or sister or a dependent relative.

Bereavement leave is a job-protected (you cannot be threatened or punished for taking this leave), unpaid leave per calendar year regardless of whether they are employed part- or full-time.

Bereavement leave can be taken at the time of the death of one of the above listed family members or later for the purpose of a funeral or memorial service or to attend to estate matters.

After two weeks of working for an employer an employee is entitled to take this leave. This time is not pro-rated and the two days do not need to be taken consecutively. However, employers have the right to count a half day of leave as a full day but the employee must still be paid for the hours they work.

Employees must give their employers verbal or written notice as soon as possible that they plan to take this leave.

Another change brought by Bill 47 is that employers may now ask for evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” of an employee’s need to take bereavement leave. This evidence may be, among other things, a death certificate, notification from a funeral home or a published obituary. ‘Reasonable circumstances’ include a variety of factors but in short, unless there is reasonable suspicion that the employee is not using this two-day leave for bereavement purposes, employers should refrain from asking for evidence of an employee’s need to take this leave.

If you have questions regarding the changes to Ontario’s employment law brought in by Bill 47 and how they may affect you, connect with us.