Many British Columbia business owners choose to use the services of independent contractors instead of employees. There are benefits for both parties with such a work relationship, but there can also be severe consequences if the independent contractor arrangement is improperly executed.
Employers' legal obligations to their employees are not limited to meeting workplace standards under the applicable labour or employment legislation. Legal proceedings on the basis of human rights violations in the workplace have grown to comprise a significant part of employment law today. Federally regulated employers in British Columbia must comply with the Canada Human Rights Act, while provincially regulated employers must follow the BC Human Rights Code. Both of these pieces of legislation prohibit discrimination in employment on certain protected grounds.
Business owners in British Columbia will know that there are many intricacies when it comes to the rights of their employees. One issue that often creates tension between management and employees is when employees want to form or join a union and the employer does not approve.
In the age of easily accessed and readily shared information, it should come as no surprise that things that were once considered acceptable have started raising eyebrows. Before employees could access salary information on company review sites or co-workers could communicate via instant messaging service, salary information was far more discrete.
Employers in British Columbia face many challenges when it comes to the human rights of their employees. Under employment law, unanticipated claims may arise, and because they were not evident at first, employers can find themselves in a tight spot. One of the areas in which it is essential to comply with non-discrimination and human rights involve employment advertising.
The safety of employees of British Columbia businesses is not only a concern for the workers, it should be the primary concern of employers as well. The fact that employment law requires employers to provide safe workplaces should not put a burden on employers while it benefits employees. Safe environments can prevent injuries and boost productivity. For that reason, it is in the interest of both sides to promote a culture of safety in the workplace -- whether it is an office or a construction site.
In British Columbia, employers must comply with workplace equity laws. Under the employment law of Canada, job descriptions and the wages offered for each position must not be based on the person but rather the job. The remuneration for men and women must be equal for equally valued jobs, and not necessarily for the same job. Reliable and methodical evaluation to determine a job's relative worth can be done by comparing all the jobs in an establishment. This can be achieved by using a simple system based on four factors -- suitable for ensuring pay equity in smaller companies.
Following a claim of workplace discrimination in British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada ultimately ruled that such discrimination is possible even if the accused and the claimant are employees of different entities. According to employment law and human rights legislation, all individuals are protected against discrimination and insults. The case arose from a complaint filed by a civil engineer who worked on a road project who alleged discriminatory remarks were made by an employee of a contractor who was involved in the project.
Canada is a country that promotes tolerance and respect in all aspects of life, including work. Certainly, no person deserves to be subjected to discrimination in the workplace for any reason. The definition of "workplace" is at the heart of a case from British Columbia that is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada. The ruling could have a major impact on employment law disputes in the future.
Each province in Canada sets its own minimum hourly wage for workers in that province. However, there are exceptions to this labour law in several provinces, including British Columbia. A local hockey league with teams across the province, including here in Vancouver, recently sought to become one of those exceptions.