Nicole Byres

Recent Posts on BCBusiness

Nov 6, 2012
Myths About Employee Probation Periods

Opinions are often mixed as to whether or not it is necessary to have probation periods for new employees. On one hand, a probationary period lets an employer decide if the employee is a good fit for the organization prior...

Oct 15, 2012
Employee Vacations: Good For Business

Summer is now officially over, and for most of us, summer vacation is a pleasant memory. However, for a surprising number of employees, taking vacation either isn’t a priority or business metrics and/or culture indirectly discourage vacations. Whatever the reason...

Sep 20, 2012
The High Price for Rude Employee Communications

The Legalist reminds employers to mind their manners and be clear when communicating pay cuts to employees. Most of us who have managed employees will admit to at least one instance where they didn’t handle a difficult conversation very well. Most times, an apology or retraction will clear the air, but as a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision highlights, when the conversation is about cuts to an employee’s wages or benefits, such gaffes can have expensive consequences. ...

Aug 27, 2012
Terminating a Pregnant Employee

A recent BC Human Rights Tribunal case reminds employers to examine timing when ending working relationships with employees. What do you do if your business restructuring plan involves terminating a pregnant employee?  As a recent human rights decision demonstrates, proceed with caution! 

Jul 31, 2012
Telecommuting: When Employees Go Too Far

Employers must make their expectations clear when making arrangements for employees to work from home. With today’s tools and technology, it isn’t unusual for businesses to have one or more employees working remotely from home, and it’s commonplace for companies in the business of developing the technology that supports or enables remote communications. 

Jul 5, 2012
Cultivating a Culture of Respect in the Workplace

In my last blog, I discussed the changes effective July 1, 2012, which allow WorkSafeBC to accept disability claims for mental disorders arising from cumulative work-related stress, including bullying. If you don’t yet have a respectful workplace policy for your...

Jun 8, 2012
Recognizing the Effects of Workplace Bullying

WorkSafeBC will soon accept disability claims arising from stress and bullying at work, and employers will have to address the issue with formal policies. There is no question that workplace bullying and harassment is costly to employers: lost productivity, absenteeism, employee attrition and human rights claims can be significant. The recent high-profile claims against the RCMP from existing or former employees alleging bullying and harassment also demonstrate that these claims can damage an organization’s reputation and brand.

May 15, 2012
Employment Rights for Non-Employees

Some companies are now required to extend employee protections to independent contractors. Businesses understand there are a number of laws regulating employees’ rights, working conditions, safety and compensation. What may be surprising to employers, however, is that many of these laws are extended to protect people who are not their employees. In other words, a business will sometimes have to extend “employee” protections to people such as independent contractors and sub-contractors.

May 11, 2012
New Invasion of Privacy Tort Could Leave Companies Liable

The recent “Intrusion on Seclusion” court decision should inspire employers to examine their current policies to protect their employees’ privacy. The Canadian legal community has been abuzz about the January 2012 Jones v Tsige decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal that recognized a new common law breach of privacy tort called “Intrusion on Seclusion.” The case is an important one for which employers to be aware of.

Apr 18, 2012
In Praise of The Human Resources Professional

The Legalist reminds us that competent HR staff members can add value to companies, protect employers from lawsuits and cut costs in the long run. My practice frequently involves helping companies with actual or potential claims against or from former employees. Unfortunately for these clients, by the time a claim arises, their options are limited to “damage control,” -- essentially just controlling the costs and consequences. 

Mar 28, 2012
Social Media in Background Checks

Given all the potential sources of information on social media sites including Twitter, YouTube and blogs, it isn’t surprising employers are searching these as part of their background checks on prospective employees and volunteers. Many employers assume when someone posts...

Mar 9, 2012
Employment Liability Insurance: Read the Fine Print

The Legalist warns us of the dangers of not knowing the coverage details of your Employment Practices Liability insurance. Employment Practices Liability (EPL) insurance has been around since the late 1990s. While policies differ, generally EPL policies may, at least on their face, provide indemnity for and/or defence against wrongful dismissal, harassment and discrimination claims, whether litigated before a court or administrative tribunal such as the Human Rights or Employment Standards.  

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