Feds protect workers’ wages
Ottawa — The federal Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) has officially launched, offering immediate payment of lost wages and vacation pay owed to workers for up to six months before their employer declared bankruptcy. The federal program will pay workers up to $3,162 and seek to recover the money from the bankrupt employer. Over time, the amount workers can recover will rise, indexed to inflation. “We made (the government) see the reality that faced 20,000 workers each year when their employers declared bankruptcy,” said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.
KPMG settles overtime suit
Toronto — The Ontario Superior Court has approved the settlement of an overtime class-action lawsuit against accounting firm KPMG. The settlement uses the Toronto-based firm’s overtime redress plan and could see employees receiving up to $10 million in compensation for unpaid overtime worked from Jan. 1, 2000, to Sept. 30, 2007. Employees have until Sept. 30 to claim unpaid overtime to be eligible. The $20-million lawsuit, filed last September, claimed KPMG supervisors regularly required employees to work 90-hour weeks while only billing clients for 60 hours.
Mandatory drug tests for B.C. construction workers
Vancouver — Construction unions and contractors in British Columbia have ratified a policy that will see mandatory drug testing for the province’s unionized construction workers who are involved in workplace accidents or near misses, or when there’s reasonable suspicion of on-the-job impairment. Employees who test positive will be suspended from work until a doctor clears them to return, at which time they will have to undergo follow-up tests for two years. The policy covers tests for alcohol and nine common drugs, including marijuana, but all parties involved insist the intent is only to measure on-the-job impairment, not after-hours activities. For in-depth coverage of this story, check out the Sept. 22 issue of Canadian HR Reporter.