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BC Employment Standards Act

Substratum of employment contract had not eroded and termination provisions were otherwise enforecable

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The issue in Wernicke v. Altrom Canada Corp., 2009 BCSC 1533, was whether the employer could rely on the termination provisions in the employment contract or whether the employee was entitled to common law reasonable notice.


The employee was a chartered accountant in his early 40s, had 12 years of service and was the Chief Financial Officer & VP Finance when his employment was terminated without cause as part of a corporate reorganization in January 2009.

The employee signed a letter agreement at the time of hiring that contained the following termination provisions:  read more »

New Brunswick set to raise its minimum wage

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia - New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunsiwck announced today that the minimum wage will be increasing in that province in four steps:

  • April 1, 2010: an increase of 25 cents to $8.50 per hour;
  • Sept. 1, 2010, an increase of 50 cents to $9 per hour;
  • April 1, 2011: an increase of 50 cents to $9.50 per hour; and
  • Sept. 1, 2011: an increase of 50 cents to $10 per hour.

The increases are part of a long-term plan to meet the Atlantic average by September 1, 2011. The basic minimum wage in New Brunswick is currently $8.25.

The BC Federation of Labour, in a news release, pointed to the New Brunswick increase to renew its call on the BC government to increase the minimum wage in this province to $10 an hour with annual increases linked to increases in the cost of living.

For more information about the minimum wage debate in BC, see this post I wrote in March 2009.

BC Court awards employee almost $40,000 in unpaid overtime going back six years

In Stastny v. Dependable Turbines Ltd. 2009 BCSC 1648,  the court addressed the notice period, a claim for unpaid overtime and a claim for aggravated or punitive damages.

Notice Period

The 51 year old machinist with 20 years service was dismissed without cause. The court awarded him a notice period of 15 months.  The fact that the employee had been laid off and rehired on several occasions did not, the court concluded, effect the duration of his employment for the purposes of calculating his notice period.

Unpaid Overtime

The employee had regularly worked more than 40 years a week but had not received overtime pay. This was confirmed by time sheets produced by the employer, which showed that the employee only received his regular wage for overtime hours worked. The employer argued that it had an agreement with the employee to this effect.  read more »

BC Employment Standards Branch announces change in how Act's "temporary layoff" provisions to be applied

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Employment Standards Branch has announced that it is changing how it will apply the "temporary layoff" provisions of the BC Employment Standards Act.

Section 1 of the Act states that a "temporary layoff" means:

  • in the case of an employee who has a right of recall, a layoff that exceeds the specified period within which the employee is entitled to be recalled to employment, and
  • in any other case, a layoff of up to 13 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks;

Section 1 of the Act further states that "termination of employment" includes a layoff other than a temporary layoff.

The BC Employment Standards Tribunal has interpreted these sections of the Act as follows:  read more »

BC extends Reservists' Leave to cover the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC government announced today that it had amended the BC Employment Standards Act regulation to extend job-protected leave to Canadian Forces reservists called on to support the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The leave, which was introduced in 2008, already protected the employment of reservists who deployed to a Canadian Forces operation outside of Canada, or to assist with an emergency inside Canada.

The new regulation now extends this support to reservists deployed to support the 2010 Games.

According to the BC Ministry of Labour, about 1,000 reservists are expected to be deployed to the Games, with half coming from within B.C.

"Employment in Tough Times - Interplay Between Employment and Insolvency"

Richard Press, a lawyer at Davis LLP co-authored a paper entitled "Employment in Tough Times - Interplay Between Employment and Insolvency" for the Employment Law Conference - 2009 CLE in Vancouver.

Downsizing and Sale of a Business Unit

"Downsizing and Sale of a Business Unit" is the title of a paper prepared by a lawyer at Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver.

It provides a comprehensive overview of issues to consider when terminating/transferring employees as part of a corporate transaction and ends with a useful summary of "what the vendor wants" and "what the purchaser wants" in order to minimize their respective exposure to claims by employees. 

You can find the paper at the link below.

New government in BC often means new labour and employment laws

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

With the May 12, 2009 provincial election fast approaching, a new Ipsos Reid poll is showing that the BC Liberals have the support of 46% of voters with the BC NDP Party sitting at 35%.

Given the polarized nature of BC politics, and the implications this can have for labour and employment laws, it is timely to look back at the workplace related promises that were in the "New Era" platform that the BC Liberals ran on in 2001, when they were first elected government. Many of these promises were enacted into law in the 2002 legislative session.

Labour Relations Code  read more »