This is the content of a talk I did recently to alumni of our School of Human Resource Management’s Masters of Human Resource Management (MHRM) program. I thought some readers might be interested. Feel free to pass along comments, suggestions, anecdotes, or to tell me if I am wrong.
These are interesting times in employment and labour law. There is a movement afoot that is changing important aspects of the common law of employment. The Supreme Court is rewriting the meaning of ‘freedom of association’ under the Charter of Rights. Yes indeed, this is a fun time to be an employment law professor.
Alas, the evolving law may not be as fun for HR managers who must ‘apply’ the law daily. You guys want to know what you can and cannot do, and a law in flux can make that difficult.
A challenging aspect of dealing with labour and employment law is that you are dealing with at least two different regimes of law at all times, and sometimes three. They are: (1) the common law of employment, regulated by the courts; (2) statutory standards regulation, enforced by employment tribunals; and (3) if you are unionized, or the threat of unionization is present, you must also be knowledgeable about collective bargaining law. And it is usually HR managers’ job to know this stuff.
That’s difficult enough, but when the law keeps changing, the challenge is multiplied, as does the risk of getting it wrong.
That’s why taking my course (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG) in the graduate program is so crucial.
I’ve chosen 5 subjects for review. Some, but not all of them are ‘new’. But some of the ‘old’ rules have recently been confirmed, and it is worth reviewing them, because they deal with human resource strategies that become more common during significant economic downturns like the one we are dealing with now.
So here goes. Five Things About Labour & Employment Law You Should Know About:
1. Can an employer temporarily layoff an employee?
2. Can an employer amend the terms of an employment contract?
3. Wallace and Keays: New punishment for employers who are *#@*%#* in the way they dismiss their employees.
4. The emergent implied duty to treat employees with decency.
5. What the heck is going on with the Supreme Court and ‘freedom of association’?