What information should I submit in the contact form or over the phone?

You should let us know who you are (name, position, name of business), who you are contacting us for (yourself, your business, or on behalf of someone else), why you are contacting us/the nature of your problem. Provide any other details you think are necessary to explain.

 If you are contacting us regarding a problem with an executive, manager or employee, please also tell us their: position title, current salary, how long they have been employed there, the name of the business that employs them, whether they are unionized, whether they were recruited, the nature of the problem, and any other relevant information. If you are uncertain, here is a list of things you should include.

How do I get started?
Give us a call or fill in our contact form. Make sure to tell us who you are, the name of your business, and the details of what you want us to advise you on,
I suspect someone of wrongdoing but I have no proof. What do I do?

You should contact a labour lawyer. They will assess the situation and organize an investigation, if warranted. An investigation is often the best way to gather proof so you can make a decision. However, if you suspect there may be imminent danger to someone you may need to act quickly.

What should I bring to my first meeting?

If you are contacting us about problems with a specific employee you should give us the following information about that employee. Here is a list for your reference but you should gather and/or send us:

  • A brief summary of what they were earning and how it is broken down:
    • base,
    • bonuses/STIP,
    • RSUs/PSUs/Stock options/LTIPs,
    • benefits,
    • car allowance,
    • RRSPs,
    • other perks or advantages,
    • etc…
  • Their T4’s and RIs for the last two fiscal years
  • Any copies of their employment contract

 You should also collect any information we may need regarding whatever circumstance you have contacted us about (ex: for collective bargaining negotiations bring us the current contract and any information you have already exchanged with the union, etc…).

An employee or employer in our business/school/non-profit has made accusations or been accused of harassment. Does OLS do investigations?

Yes, we do.

As long as I compensate them, can I fire an employee when I want to?

That’s a complicated question. Technically, as the employer you have the right to fire your employee. However, the level of compensation (and even whether the termination will stand!) depends on a number of factors. These include (but are not limited to):

  • The nature of the position held by the employee
  • The employee’s duration of service
  • The jurisdiction applicable (Provincial or Federal)
  • Whether the employee is unionized
  • The nature of the employment relationship
  • The provisions in the employment contract
  • Any aggravating factors
  • Any other relevant factors
My employee is not doing their job properly or fulfilling all their responsibilities. Can I fire them for cause? Will I have to compensate them?

That depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Can this be potentially resolved through disciplinary measures?
  • Can this problem be solved by sending them through training or retraining?
  • Does your employee not doing their job properly put anyone in imminent danger?

 Firing someone for cause is a legal determination that we cannot answer as a generic question, there are too many interacting factors that could change the answer. The answer is the same for the question of compensation: it depends very much on what the employee has done or failed to do, as well as a number of other factors. You should explain all relevant information to a labour lawyer in order to get a proper assessment.

What can I do if an employee is a poor performer but has been here a long time?

This is a very complex question, with a complicated answer. In a situation like this your best way forward is to consult a labour lawyer. However, let’s try to answer this very generally.

 Courts and arbitrators are often protective of employees who have been with a business/employer for a significant period of time.

 If the nature of the problem is a deliberate lack of effort or malfeasance on the part of the employee, then you should theoretically be able to employ disciplinary options. There is a world of difference between “can’t” and “won’t” in the eyes of the law.

 However, if the employee is trying their best but unable to perform, it will depend greatly on how long the problem has already been tolerated. If this has been ongoing for awhile, you will likely need to provide support before disciplinary options can even be discussed. However, if this is a relatively new development, then you may be able to employ disciplinary options.

 Everything mentioned above is a very general grasp of the situation. The answers often change depending on the specifics of each unique situation. Remember that it is always best to consult a labour lawyer first before taking any action. Think of consulting lawyers as the “ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure”. It costs far less money and stress to do things properly, than to cause or compound a problem that may have been avoided entirely

What can I do if an employee is frequently late or absent?

You have the right to expect your employees to be on time and present. While there can be exceptions, this is the general rule. In order to ensure that your employees adhere to these obligations, you should:

  • Determine the extent of the problem (How many employees are doing this? Are they all in the same department? Etc…)
  • Determine the history of the problem (How long has this been going on and/or tolerated?)
  • Investigate the problem (Find out why the employee(s) is late or absent, and offer them the opportunity to explain.)
  • Issue sanctions in a progressive manner (Progressing gradually from a warning to a suspension to a dismissal.)

 Following these steps for every employee will generally demonstrate that you are not singling anyone out but are instead acting in a reasonable and justifiable manner.

My business is about to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the union. Do we really need a lawyer?

We strongly recommend it. Employees & unions both have a lot of rights in Quebec.

Business is not going well lately. How can you help me save money?

Businesses can hemorrhage money in many different ways. We offer a number of services that can help, such as labour restructuring and CNESST optimization. However, helping businesses save money is not a one size fits all operation. It depends greatly on the specifics of your business, business model and labour needs. In order to determine if we can help you, your best bet is to contact us directly. If we can’t help you then we will tell you immediately and if we can help you then it’s best to get started as quickly as possible.

How has COVID affected your law firm? The legal system? What has changed?

We are working remotely. Currently, we will not have any in person meetings. All information to be submitted to us must be done remotely.

 As for the legal system, most meetings and even most arbitrations are happening remotely. Aside from that, there have been a number of delays in the court system so it can take longer to have a date for a hearing.

What is CSST/CNESST and how does it affect a business?

CSST/CNESST are governmental organizations whose goals are to ensure that employees suffering from professional injuries or workplace accidents receive full compensation. It is funded almost entirely by the premiums paid by employers. Poorly managed CSST/CNESST can affect businesses in a number of ways, such as:

  • Increased premium costs
  • Increased labour costs
  • Productivity costs
  • Future costs
  • Morale
  • Other employees

However, there are many ways businesses can ensure they do not pay more than is necessary. These methods can include:

  • Managing claims
  • Contesting illegitimate claims
  • Cost-sharing
  • Temporary assignments
  • Verification of unit rate and salary mass