As we wrap up this year and get ready to make New Year's resolutions,
it's a great time to reflect on some of the highlights (and lowlights) of this
past year. In addition to an attack on Canada's parliament, a stranger-than-fiction Mayor's race in Toronto, a surprising election victory for Ontario's scandal-plagued Liberals, an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, aggressive moves by Russia into the Crimea and Ukraine, a missing airplane, a new terror threat in the Middle East, increased racial tensions in the U.S. following controversial police actions, a data hack at Sony Studios, a Winter Olympics, a World Cup, and an "Ice Bucket Challenge" that took over the internet, there were a number of HR news stories of note:
Legislative changes you need to know about:
Noteworthy court and human rights decisions:
No patience for abusive behaviour:
Progress with Ontario's accessibility legislation:
Spotlight on mental health:
WSIB and WSIAT in the news:
Statutory holidays make headlines:
Clear Path's 2014:
We hope you have enjoyed this quick look back at the year that was 2014 and are excited about everything that is to come in 2015. Contact us at Clear Path if we can answer any of your HR or WSIB Claims Management questions.
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Set expectations on electronic communications
News headlines have been dominated in recent weeks by the ongoing saga related to Sony Pictures Entertainment's controversial film "The Interview." It is alleged that North Korea led a cyber attack on Sony's computer servers as a response to their plan to release the film whose plot involves the assassination of leader Kim Jon-un.
For several days, a group calling itself the "Guardians of Peace" released a series of confidential and often embarrassing data leaks from the company, including Sony employee salary details and Social Insurance Numbers. They also released the content of internal emails that severely damaged the reputations of those involved, including a thread that contained racist jokes directed at President Barack Obama.
After things escalated beyond data hacks to the threat of violent attacks if the film debuted as planned, Sony first decided to delay the release of the film. After Sony received criticism from numerous sources, including President Obama, they decided to release it in any theatres willing to show it as well as on-line. Read more (Source: Business Insider).
The idea of an external person breaching your company's internal data and sharing confidential information with the world should send a chill down the back of every HR professional and business owner.
Many business owners might be wondering if their data can ever be truly safe. While there are cases for and against storing your data in "the cloud," ultimately each business must decide for themselves if they want to take the plunge. Services like DropBox, Google Apps for Business and Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Office 365 make moving to the cloud seem relatively easy and pain free.
But what can you, as the HR professional in your organization, do? There are several steps you can take. While you may not have any control over your company’s data after it is sent to the cloud, you are able control how data is handled within your company.
As a way to try to avoid the embarrassing release of emails or texts that contain content that you would not want published in the press, develop an appropriate use of email communications policy and ensure that you entire workforce (including senior executives) follow it.
Some elements that policy should contain include:
Bring your own device policy
Another focus should be a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. With smart phones becoming nearly ubiquitous, many companies are allowing their employees to use their own devices, rather than provide them through the company. The trade off is a reduction in equipment cost, but a potentially higher risk of data vulnerability/loss. A BYOD policy means you can set out the terms of employees having access to company data through their personal equipment. This policy can also be applied to employee laptops, for those employees that use their own laptop or work remotely on occasion.
A policy that outlines access to data should also be developed. With many cloud storage solutions, there is often a desktop version available. This allows the documents to be stored on each employee’s computer which, while convenient, can lead to disaster if an employee decides to leave and has a copy of your most valuable data on their hard drive. You must decide if the convenience is worth the potential loss of security, or if you want to insist your data is to remain in the cloud only.
How will the data be accessed?
Another item in your arsenal should be to include a definitive procedure to follow when an employee leaves your organization. This could be a checklist that runs through all the steps that must be taken when an employee moves on, regardless of the circumstances. Forgetting a simple thing like having keys returned means your office could be vulnerable.
Things on your list should include: removing the employee’s passwords, alarm codes (if applicable) ensuring the return of any company property –i.e. keys, laptops, etc.
A good time to review these steps would be when you first hire an employee. While it may be a bit awkward during hiring process to review the policies and procedures regarding an employee that is leaving the organization, this helps ensure that the employee understands and agrees to the terms of employment.
Need helping developing policies? Let the team at Clear Path put their expertise to work for you.
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Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the busy Christmas holiday season a safe and enjoyable one at your workplace. If you have other tips, share them in the Comments.
Keep Employees Safe From Violence:
Risk factors that increase the likelihood of workplace violence (see our FAQ about Bill 168) include working during times of increased levels of stress and the presence of alcohol. The frantic pace of the Christmas season, particularly for those dealing with the frenzied public in retail stores, and the common practice of serving alcohol at holiday parties certainly increases these risks.
As per Bill 168, employers have an obligation to take explicit actions to reduce the risk of violence against their workers. This can include hiring additional staff for the holidays, having managers or security guards ensure that interactions do not escalate, and finding ways to reduce stress for your employees. Concrete plans on how to curb excessive alcohol consumption during holiday parties is also important.
Bill 168 also makes employers liable if they fail to prevent domestic violence from impacting the workplace (which includes workplace events like a Christmas party). If you suspect domestic violence or know of a history of spousal violence, it might be necessary to prevent that individual from attending. Due to the delicate nature of this issue, we recommend getting legal advice before taking action.
Keep Your Party a Positive Experience For All:
Health & Safety Issues:
Keep It Real With Secret Santa:
Exchanging gifts or having a "Secret Santa" in the workplace can be seen as a bit of fun. But some staff members might take advantage of the anonymous nature of the exchange and give inappropriate or even offensive gifts to their colleagues.
Organizers of the gift exchange must ensure participants are aware that Secret Santa falls under your company's HR existing policies and that anyone selecting a gift that might cause offense or be construed as bullying or harassment will face consequences.
Keep Holiday Scheduling Fair:
Some businesses close their doors for a company-wide break during the holidays. But if your company is open for business during the Christmas period, determining which employees are required to work can be a tricky process.
When ensuring you have adequate coverage for their customers, employers should select employees to work during this period based on the business needs of the employer and should be in a position to objectively justify their selection of employees. Employers should be mindful not to target employees that do not have children or do not celebrate Christmas. Allowing employees to volunteer to work or setting up a rotating schedule are other strategies you may deploy to keep things fair.
Keep "Decking The Halls" Safe:
Putting up Christmas decorations can be a fun and festive way to celebrate the season at your workplace. However, it doesn't make you a Scrooge to insist that employees take all the necessary safety precautions when putting up those decorations. The people assigned to do the decorating might not be familiar with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), so it's your job as the employer to enforce them.
Having someone injured or putting in a WSIB claim is not the way you want to start the holidays! Take precautions such as providing staff with suitable step ladders to put up decorations, making sure that Christmas trees are not blocking fire escape routes or exits, and checking any novelty lighting for defects.
Have any questions about how to make your workplace a positive and safe environment? Don't hesitate to contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at (519) 624-0800 or email@example.com.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season's Greetings everyone!
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With all the focus on the Christmas season, employers need to consider the needs of employees who are not members of the Christian faith. This is not a matter of being "politically correct." It's recognizing the reality of today's workplaces.
With an increasing percentage of employees following a religion other than the Christian faith, organizations need to determine how they will respond to requests for time off to mark holy days that do not fall on a statutory holiday.
The Human Rights Code requires employers to accommodate these requests (to the point of undue hardship), however it currently does not require that time off be paid.
Some options available to employers include:
Regardless of the choice your company makes, it is critically important to determine your policy in advance of a request and apply it consistently across the organization.
Don't leave this important issue to be decided by each supervisor, your company will be opening itself up to unwanted complaint of discrimination. Imagine the ramifications of one supervisor allowing a member of a particular faith to have a paid day off while another denies the same request to a member of a different faith.
Have questions about employee issues in your workplace? Contact us today.
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This blog post is part of an ongoing series where we feature one of Clear Path's incredible team members and help you get to know them a bit better.
This month, our spotlight is on Claims Manager Tali Rubinfeld
I jumped off a building in Vegas! It was awesome!
Dog Person or Cat Person:
Which people do you most admire?
My great grandmother and my grandfather
Notting Hill (I love Julia Roberts)
TV show you never want to miss:
Which fictional character do you look up to?
Spiderman! Because underneath it all, he is just a geek like me.
What would you pick for your last meal?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Hiking any nature trail around the world
What talent would you most like to have?
To be able to eat everything and not gain weight
Where would you most like to live?
What is your personal motto?
Some are born great,
Some achieve greatness, and
Some have greatness thrust upon them.
Your fate awaits you.
Accept it in body and spirit.
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
You can learn more about Tali on her Clear Path bio page.
Other entries in our Spotlight Series:
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Learn how Clear Path can help you manage your HR and Claims Management needs!
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