Employment standards mistakes can be costly for employers

Unpaid overtime, vacation and unauthorized deductions most common missteps
By Peter Eastwood
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/14/2010

Employment standards are often — wrongly — considered a relatively simple area of law. But, as many employers are discovering, applying employment standards legislation to the modern workplace is far from easy.

Many of the standards were developed for very different workplaces than those that confront HR professionals today. Drafters of hours of work and overtime provisions likely never contemplated a world where the traditional boundaries between work and personal life would become so blurred — and arguably eradicated — because of technology such as email and BlackBerrys.

The past several years have emphasized the importance of understanding employment standards legislation in Canada. The previously neglected issue of overtime has become the new face of class-action lawsuits because of several high-profile claims brought against CIBC, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and KPMG. These follow earlier cases in the United States where many large companies, including Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Taco Bell and RadioShack, had to pay enormous overtime awards to employees.