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COVID-19

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Along with other Ontario businesses, we are closely following the latest developments of COVID-19 both here in Canada and around the world. As a result, we have prepared this informational sheet for our clients.

While the risk to most individuals in Ontario remains low, going forward we may be told to take direction from the authorities including but not limited to the World Health Organization and the federal or provincial governments.

What you can do to protect yourself:

  • Continue to practice proper hygiene protocols by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Our office building at 1 Yonge Street is still open to the public. However, effectively immediately, In House Human Resources will be working remotely until further notice.

What that means to our clients:

We are committed to your health & safely and are taking necessary steps that are reasonable under the circumstances to protect your health and safety while we navigate this uncertain time. We are still available to our clients for any human resources or safety matters. In most if not all cases though, any potential meetings will be via electronic means.

If your business must remain open, here are some tips for how to handle business continuity while also keeping employees and customers safe.

Physical workplace:

  • Take precautionary measures and introduce bottles of hand sanitizers and Kleenex throughout the workplace for employee/customer use.
  • At least twice daily clean areas that are frequently used by employees/customers (door handles, faucets, tables, etc.
  • Speak to the property management company and ask that they also step up their cleaning of the common areas such as the bathrooms and elevators.
  • If possible, visitors to the workplace should be discouraged.

Employee procedures:

  • All non-essential business travel should be cancelled until further notice.
  • Employees should be encouraged to connect electronically or through other means.
  • Employees travelling over the coming months, should be required to report their personal travel plans to management prior to travelling.
  • Employees should be advised to avoid any skin to skin contact such as hand shaking, hugging, kissing, etc. with other employees. Employees should promote ‘social distancing’ from each other (1 metre apart if possible) or work from home/stay home.
  • Employees who attend the work place with flu like symptoms such as a fever or cough, should be isolated immediately from others, asked to leave and report (call) their condition to their physician and/or Ontario Health. If they have difficulty breathing, treat it as an emergency.
  • Employees who are being tested for COVID-19 must inform management.
  • Employees who are returning from illness will need to provide a ‘fit for duty’ letter from their physician before they can return to work.
  • Employees traveling from abroad should be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to return to the workplace.
  • Employees who think that they have come into contact with an affected person (or if someone close to them has), need to inform management for guidance on the way forward.

Employee events:

Should be cancelled until further notice.

Discrimination:

Encourage your employees to be kind to their fellow employees. A reminder that the company is still very much following all other policies and procedures, including violence & harassment policies, should be issued. Make it clear, that under no circumstances will the company tolerate any discriminatory or anti-racial conversations in the workplace.

 Cyber risks:

There is an elevated risk of becoming a victim of phishing email attacks during this time. Remind employees to be careful to only check authentic websites for information.

Communication & information:

Keep the communication flowing to employees. This is a difficult time for all.

Reprisals:

Under no circumstances should an employee be disciplined or otherwise penalized for reporting an illness or a contact incident of COVID-19.

Leaves:

In the event an employee or a member of his or her family does contract Coronavirus, there are a number of unpaid leave entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) which may apply:

  • Family Medical Leave – up to 28 weeks in 52-week period where the employee is providing support to a family member suffering from a serious medical condition, who is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks
  • Family Caregiver Leave – up to eight weeks to care for or support a family member suffering from a serious illness
  • Critical Illness Leave – up to 37 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill minor child or 17 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill adult family member
  • Sick Leave – up to three days in each calendar year due to employee illness, injury or medical emergency
  • Declared Emergency Leave – where an employee will not be performing his or her duties as a result of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act or other similar legislation

For more information contact:

The Government of Ontario

Public Health Ontario

World Health Organization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Agriculture Day – Feb. 11

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, it is time to show some love for Canadian farmers! February 11, 2020 is Canadian Agriculture Day. Where would we be without the agricultural community? Whether you are a meat or a plant eater, we all need to eat to sustain ourselves. These hard working farmers and their workers are out in their fields or tending their livestock before most of us have even woken up for the day.

In House Human Resources knows first hand just how dedicated these people are to their work. Some of our clients are produce farmers or distributers. We have seen the dedication and long hours they put in to bring their produce to our tables while also complying with government regulations such as food and health and safety.

So cheers to the Canadian farmer, their workers, families and distributers! Show some love and pride by supporting Canadian agriculture on Feb. 11 and onwards.

January in Ontario Safety Tips

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Here are some safety tips to help you get through January in Ontario. Although it is winter in Canada, so far in Ontario the weather has not been frightful as the old song goes. In fact, the temperature has been quite mild (so far). But don’t let the mildness of Mother nature fool you. There are still many reasons to be careful during winter. As the temperature fluctuates, sidewalks and roadways can melt and then later freeze quickly making for slippery conditions. The potential for slips and falls on the sidewalk, heart attacks while shoveling and for a motor traffic accident on the roadway all rise during winter. There are many other hazards to watch out for. The National Safety Council has you covered for winter driving and other health related issues. Check out their website for lots of tips.

Holiday Season Hours

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In House Human Resources will have the following hours during the holiday season as follows:

Friday, December 20, 2019 (Open)

Monday, December 23, 2019 (Open until 2:00 PM)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019 (Closed)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019 (Closed)

Thursday, December 26, 2019 (Closed)

Friday, December 27, 2019 (Closed)

Monday, December 30, 2019 (Closed)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 (Closed)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 (Closed)

Thursday, January 2, 2020 (Open)

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the office. At this time we would like to wish all our clients and their families a happy holiday season and all the best for 2020!

Speaking of Absenteeism…

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The cold weather is upon us, the days are getting shorter and winter is almost here. With it also comes the time (or excuse) for increased absenteeism. A lot of discussion has been focused on whether employees should stay home when they are sick or whether they should drag themselves in to the workplace. If we bring sickness into the workplace, we have the potential to make others sick. Being sick in the workplace is no picnic for the afflicted person or their co-workers. Being miserable and noisy is usually a major disruption and embarrassing. But if the sick person doesn’t work while sick, does their work and workplace suffer anyway?

That is a question that begs for an answer, but the answer is …it depends. It depends on the culture and tolerance of the work environment and what the person is suffering from etc.  Each individual should decide if they might be infectious and if in doubt they should check with a doctor. How does the employer know if the absent employee is really sick or just goofing off? This question has perplexed numerous employers over time.

It is important to define “absenteeism”. Innocent absenteeism happens when an employee is absent due to circumstances beyond their control. This absenteeism can be easy to recognize since it usually happens suddenly, is infrequent for this employee, and may last longer than one day. If in doubt, this type of absenteeism can usually be verified by a medical certificate if the duration is long enough. Culpable absenteeism is the opposite of innocent absenteeism since it is can be frequent and excessive compared to others in the organization.

There is no magic formula for tracking excessive absenteeism. A good rule of thumb is to track the company absenteeism average on a monthly basis. Next compare all employees to see which ones have a higher record month over month without proper medical documentation. A good line of defence is to have an attendance policy in place, stating what is acceptable and what is not. Ensure that it is well communicated and enforced consistently and fairly and has progressive discipline procedures listed for culpable offenders. An initial meeting with a frequent absentee employee is recommended. Information gathered should ensure that there are no personal issues causing the absenteeism that may need some accommodation or support. Communication is essential before any judgement is made.

 

NAOSH Week May 5 to 11, 2019

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NAOSH week is a week when companies devote an entire week to safety activities and training to help raise awareness and promote good safety practices. Although the week serves as a good reinforcement that safety should be paramount in the workplace, employers need to make sure that good safety practices are developed from day one of hire and applied throughout the whole year and not just for NAOSH Week.

If your business hasn’t planned any NAOSH events, it is not too late to organize at least a few activities. Visit the NAOSH Week website for more information and plan to make this excellent event part of your health and safety program every May. Since we just remembered those workers who died, were injured, or got an occupational disease on the job, let’s start the rest of the year off right by ensuring that we act on the promise we made last month for better safety measures in the workplace.

National Day of Mourning

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April 28th is a national day of mourning. It is a day when we remember workers who died on the job or those who were injured while working. Every year we think about those people who went to work one day and didn’t come home or came home but their lives were changed forever. Not only do we remember these people, but we also spare a thought for their families and friends. Everyone plays a role in health and safety.  A bad outcome affects everyone, not just the worker.

Annually on the national day of mourning, we also commit to taking action to reduce death and injury in the workplace. Commitment to change is essential. If we are only committed to change on one day a year, is the change going to be significant? This year let us all take a different approach.

Call to Action

From the top down and from the bottom up, let’s get empowered to speak up when we see a hazard or an unsafe situation. Let’s get our managers and workers educated to ensure that they can foresee danger before it happens. Think about the steps of your work ahead of time to figure out what could go wrong. Our young workers especially need protecting since they will be entering the workforce in the coming weeks. Get busy now keeping each other safe! Wouldn’t it be great in the future if the people we were remembering were injured before 2019?

Is Your Joint Health and Safety Committee Doing a Good Job? 8 Steps to Help You Make Sure

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Is your joint health and safety committee doing a good job? Your company has a working Joint Health and Safety Committee in place. You believe that you have done everything you need to be in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. But is your committee effective? Has having a committee in place changed your health and safety accident rate? When your committee meets are they effective or meeting to document that they met?

Setting Objectives

April is here and it is a brand new quarter. Why not take the time now to set some objectives for the Joint Health and Safety Committee? If your committee is always deferring items from one meeting to another, the committee itself may be ineffective. Before you can set objectives for them, an audit is important. Here are 8 steps to ensure your Joint Health and Safety Committee is doing a good job and working as best it can.

8 Steps to an Effective Committee

Step #1: Start by looking at what issues or items the committee dealt with last year. Make sure the items were relevant to your company and the committee’s mandate. While you are at it, make sure they have a mandate (such as maintaining a safe workplace or reducing the accident rate) and that all committee members know the mandate and are working to achieve it.

Step #2: Count the amount of times the committee met for the year.  Identify the areas they inspected and how often. At the same time ensure that you have enough members on the committee, that they were afforded the time to inspect the workplace/attend meetings and that they are properly trained to do the job.

Step #3: From the 2018 meeting minutes you should be easily able to identify how successful the committee was in closing off on items that came up during the year. Count the number of items the committee dealt with and get a percentage of how many items were resolved (you will look at the resolution timing rate in the next step).

Step #4: Check for items that were carried forward for more than one month and identify the reason. Next check to see how long each item was open before resolution. Count how long it took the committee to resolve an item i.e. one month, two months, etc.

Step #5: Look for items that should have been rated as a priority and were either misidentified or carried forward to the next month.

Step #6: Look for other items that were carried forward month over month (despite the efforts of the committee) that needed follow-up from others outside the committee. Identify if the efforts of the committee were blocked in any way by the company. Identify any other barrier sources.

Step #7: Use the information identified in the above steps to create solutions to any barriers or fix any performance issues the committee had. If you have additional data from past years, more important information may be available so it is worthwhile looking back as far as you can. You may be surprised that some items go back years (i.e. loose bathroom floor tiles etc.)

Step #8: Set aside some time to annually set objectives with the Joint Health and Safety Committee. Get their input to help set realistic goals. Going forward, annually use the above steps to rate performance and identify any barriers to the committee’s effectiveness. Along with the committee, create solutions to ensure that they have all the tools they need to achieve their mandate.

Other Resources

For 10 tips to keep your committee meetings on track, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has more information. If you use the above steps along with the tips, achieving your committee’s mandate should be much easier.  Everyone in your organization will benefit and thank you for your efforts.

The National Day of Mourning is looming again on April 28th. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you made some real changes to your committee and by default your accident rate? This would mean that those who lost their lives or were injured didn’t do so in vain.

 

 

 

 

Annual Workplace Law Conference 2019

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A great morning was spent at Lionhead Golf and Country Club courtesy of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Annual Workplace Law Conference 2019. As usual the topics were very timely and informative. Some information of course served as a reminder, while other nuggets were hot off the press.

The morning began with a fireside chat with The Honourable Caroline Mulroney chatting with Lisa Cabel, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright. With a jam packed morning we were treated to great food and topics such as Terminating white collar professionals, How unions are expanding, Recent trends and topics in employment law, Smoking, drinking, driving and crossing the border in 2019, Artificial intelligence, and Top employment law cases.

The sessions were opened and closed by John Mastoras, Senior Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright. Thanks for a very insightful morning to all the presenters!

 

Snow Shovelling Advice for Digging Out

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Need advice on snow shovelling? If you live in Canada with landscapes that look like postcards, chances are you will need to shovel snow once in awhile every winter. Let’s face it; we Canadians have a love/hate relationship with snow. We love to play in it but we hate to shovel it, but shovel it we must.

If you own a snow removal business or employ a janitor/maintenance employee to shovel the walk and parking lot here’s a reminder on how to practice proper shovelling techniques. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has an excellent article on what you or your employees need to know about digging out safely from all the white stuff. Of course, once you have completed the task of digging out, you probably need to actually drive somewhere. How about refreshing your memory about driving on snow covered roads? Again CCOHS has you covered with some good tips for winter driving.

If on the other hand, you just need help digging yourself out from the piles of work that still needs to be done to get your safety program in tip top condition, check out how IHHR can help. We’ve got you covered!