More workplace law questions – and answers

Workplace law never ceases to amaze me — whether employer or employee, one side is always trying to take advantage of the other.  Here are some of the more opportunistic questions I was asked this week:
Can I fire an employee on maternity leave? The answer should be no as reinstatement is required at the end of the leave. However, due to a loophole in the legislation, permitting termination only in circumstances unrelated to the leave, it happens all the time. All an employer must do is claim there is some form of restructuring, even if it is not true, and the legislation can be circumvented.
Can I fire an employee on disability leave? Similar to a parental leave, the answer is technically no but practically yes. Employees cannot be fired because they are on leave but employers do so anyway. They just call it something else and they often get away with it.
Can I look for another job while still employed? Looking for other work is not illegal.  The problem is when it is done by using company resources, such as its computers and internet. Even sending an application from your personal email account, but through your workplace computer, could be cause for dismissal.
I work through lunch and my breaks all the time, can I leave work early? This seems logical but the law does not permit it. Employment standards legislation requires a certain amount of break time each day but it does not permit employees to “trade” their breaks for an early departure.
My employee claims she worked during her vacation. Must I provide her with extra time off?  If an employee was asked to perform any work, technically she should be paid or provided with a substitute day off. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs.
Overtime – if an employee works late because she is slow at her work, must I pay for that time? If overtime is worked, even without authorization, it must be paid.  The problem is that few employers and employees are aware of the actual overtime rules, and therefore, seldom are they followed.
Author: Daniel Lublin
Publication: Metro