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Where HR Professionals Get It Wrong: Employment Counsels’ Collective Musings

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The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) recently conducted a survey of lawyers specializing in employment law. The results of the survey flag the legal issues HR professionals most frequently grapple with in the workplace, particularly those issues where they were most likely to “get it wrong”.

The amount of feedback received exceeded the HRPA’s expectations and led to some very interesting results. A “top ten” outlining the results of this survey was presented at the 2016 HRPA Annual Conference at a session entitled “Employment lawyers’ perceptions of where HR professionals get it wrong in matters of employment and workplace law”.

The top 10 list is reproduced below. The percentage column indicates how frequently that particular issue was raised as an issue by counsel. The issues flagged by counsel ranged widely but not surprisingly many of the usual suspects made the top 10. As I reviewed it, interestingly, I noted that these are in fact the legal issues clients most frequently reach out to discuss with me.

1 Termination pay, termination notice, termination with or without cause and pay in lieu of notice 70%
2 Mental health or physical disabilities that deal with the duty to accommodate 55%
3 Contracts and employment agreements 45%
4 Discriminatory grounds such as family status, age, marital status, etc…that deal with the duty to accommodate 32%
5 Forgetting that common law principles also apply 32%
6 Dealing with harassment and violence in the workplace 26%
7 How to properly interpret the Employment Standards Act, 2000 21%
8 Severance pay entitlements 19%
9 Vacation time, vacation pay and bonuses 19%
10 Continuation of benefits to employee after termination 19%

This list is a great place to start for organisations trying to address the most important legal risks relating to their HR practices. It is also a great list for HR professionals looking to hone their expertise. With this in mind, I started thinking about the ways in which the issues raised could be addressed. Then the eureka moment – what a great roadmap for a series of blog posts.

So here were are! In the coming weeks, I will take on each of these “issues” and explore them from the perspective of an employment lawyer. My intention, of course, is to be as “user friendly” as possible. I’ll look to you to let me know if I’m getting that last part right. As always, I welcome feedback and questions and would encourage readers to get in touch.

So onwards and upwards – and see you next week with our first installment in this series.

Adrian Ishak

Related blogs in this series:


About the Author: Toronto Employment Lawyer Adrian Ishak’s practice focuses on all aspects of employment law including employee relations, terminations, wrongful dismissals, employment contracts, and employment policies. He provides strategic counselling on a number of human resources, privacy and human rights issues. With a joint Ontario and Québec call and with experience in both jurisdictions, Adrian guides his clients through employment standards matters, pay and employment equity, and human rights obligations in Canadian common law and Québec’s civil law jurisdiction. Adrian represents clients in both English and French.