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Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference

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In support of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Lancaster House is moving the 2020 Ontario Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference online. Our virtual conference will meet the same high standards to which all Lancaster House events are held.

In association with: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/cirhr/
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020


Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM  


Panel 1


2020 Vision: Key precedents from an unprecedented year

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Sharan Basran
Senior Executive of Legal and Counsel
Ontario Nurses Association
Katherine Ferreira
Union Counsel
Koskie Minsky
Stephen Flaherty
Employer Counsel and Senior Manager of Labour Relations
Toronto District School Board
Mathias Link
Employer Counsel
Fasken

Panel Summary

In this session, top advocates will review the year's most important cases and legislative developments, addressing issues such as entitlement to paid leave for COVID-related absences, the assessment of appropriate disciplinary penalties, and the appropriate forum to advance employment claims. Final selection of topics will take place in the weeks leading up to the conference, ensuring coverage of the latest and most important developments.

BREAK

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Wednesday, December 9, 2020


Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM  


Panel 2


Creative Remedies, Creative Procedures: A brainstorming session with the arbitrators

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Kenneth Swan
Mediator/Arbitrator

Paula Turtle
Arbitrator/Mediator


Panel Summary

Persuasive oral advocacy and winning legal arguments are key to effective grievance arbitration, but what happens before and after the hearing can be just as critical to a successful outcome. In this session, attendees will gain insight into protocols for preparation and post-hearing remedies by working through scenarios and real-world examples with the guidance of leading arbitrators. Attendees will learn methods of minimizing costs, delays, and backlogs and hear about creative remedies arbitrators have awarded — or wished they had been asked to award — in grievances before them.

End of Day One

12:15 PM

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:20 AM - 9:30 AM  


Panel 3


Remote Work in the wake of COVID-19: Exploring accommodation, privacy, productivity, and other critical issues

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Kim Bernhardt
Arbitrator/Mediator

Daryn Jeffries
Employer Counsel
Rae Christen Jeffries
Cynthia Watt
Vice-President
AMAPCEO

Panel Summary

While remote work was a growing trend before COVID-19, the global pandemic has abruptly ushered in "the world's largest work-from-home experiment." Employers, unions, and employees are confronting multiple issues related to the remote workplace, including accommodation of caregivers and supervision of remote workers. In this session, experts will provide guidance on the challenges facing workplace parties in this new era.

  • What are best practices to support the psychological and physical well-being of employees working remotely? What are reasonable employer expectations regarding employee availability during work hours and response time to e-mails during the pandemic?
  • What measures can/should employers put in place to supervise employees who work remotely? How should workplace parties approach a situation in which employees who are working remotely aren't as productive as they should be?
  • Do employers have a duty to accommodate employees experiencing stress or mental distress as a result of COVID-related conditions?
  • Should employers and/or unions proactively initiate communications with employees known to have mental health disabilities regarding possible deterioration or relapse? Could such contact be considered discriminatory or privacy-invasive?
  • How do existing legal principles regarding family status accommodation and undue hardship apply in the current environment, with the widespread shift to remote work and diminishing availability of childcare and eldercare supports?
  • Are employers still required to comply with their obligations under occupational health and safety legislation when an employee is working from home? What are some measures that they can put in place to satisfy these obligations? Should employers bear any costs related to remote work environments, and if so, which ones?
  • What provisions should be made for union communication with members working from home?

BREAK

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:20 AM - 9:30 AM  


Panel 4


Sick Leave and Return to Work: Practical advice on perennial concerns and emerging challenges

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Dale Hewat
Arbitrator/Mediator

Ian McKellar
Union Counsel
Dewart Gleason LLP
Donna Walrond
Solicitor
Toronto Transit Commission

Panel Summary

Employers and unions are regularly required to handle requests for sick leave and facilitate return to work while ensuring respect for employee privacy, preventing abuse, and fulfilling accommodation obligations. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace parties have been grappling with a dramatic increase in health-related issues and unforeseen challenges relating to managing illness and recovery. In this session, experts will provide practical advice on sick leave and return to work in the extraordinary context of the current crisis, with a focus on the following topics:

  • What information can an employer legally require from employees who take sick leave? How have requirements for medical information changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What leaves or benefits may be available to an employee who has contracted COVID-19? Are employees entitled to leave or benefits if they are self-isolating as a precaution, are subject to a mandatory quarantine, suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, or are caring for a family member who is ill?
  • How have employers amended their sick leave policies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic? What policies have been most effective in response to emerging challenges?
  • What must employers and unions do to protect employee privacy in the context of sick leave? How have obligations changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can employers prevent abuse of sick leave without violating employees’ privacy rights?
  • In what circumstances will arbitrators uphold the discharge of an employee for abusing sick leave? What is the potential liability faced by an employer who unjustly accuses an employee of sick leave fraud?
  • What are the obligations of the employer, the union, and the insurer (if applicable) to an employee who has been on sick leave for an extended period of time?
  • How should employers and unions communicate with employees on sick leave? What are the differences between appropriate contact and harassment?
  • What medical information is needed to facilitate a return to work? Can an employer require a negative COVID-19 test result prior to allowing an employee to return to work?
  • What are the key elements of a return-to-work plan? What special considerations may apply in returning an employee to work following recovery from COVID-19?

Conference Ends

12:15 PM

Keynote Speakers


CPD


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Conference Sessions

  • This program has been approved by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) for 5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.