On Thursday, September 29th Montridge hosted our 6th annual “Ask the Experts” panel discussion at Steamworks Brew Pub in Gastown. We discussed industry hot topics related to employment law, taxation, employee benefits, and even the viral phenomenon of “quiet quitting” that has been taking over the internet for the past few months.
Registrants submitted questions prior to the event and attendees were able to ask additional questions during the discussion. We’ve compiled some of the questions and answers below for anyone who may have missed the in-person event.
Matthew Baker- Senior Manager, Baker Tilly WM LLP
Judith Mewhort- Managing Partner, Montridge Advisory Group
Debra Walker- Associate HR Consultant, Chemistry Consulting Group
Before kicking off our questions, we asked our panelists for a brief introduction about themselves and the organization they belong to. We also asked panelists about a hot topic that has been on their radar since the pandemic.
My name is Debra and I am an associate HR consultant at Chemistry Consulting Group. Remote work vs in-office work and how you can get your employees back in office continues to be a hot topic in the HR world. Reconstructing workplace culture to something similar to what it was pre-COVID is a struggle that has been growing in the post-pandemic world.
Judith: My name is Judith and I am the Managing Partner at Montridge Advisory Group. Financial wellbeing and mental health, with the two often coming up together are surfacing a lot this year. Teaching employees the basics of financial education to help them grow and effectively manage their finances will have a positive impact on reducing their stress and increasing their overall productivity.
Matt: My name is Matt and I am a Senior Manager at Baker Tilly WM LLP. Whether or not there will be an increase in the capital gains tax has been a big question on everybody’s mind. The looming recession and the need to pay for the increased level of government spending during the pandemic, is causing many in the industry to believe that the Canadian government is looking to raise taxes. Although the expectation is that the current targeted approach will prevail rather than an increase to capital gains.
Ryan: My name is Ryan and I am a partner at Mathews Dinsdale Clark LLP. Return to in-person work/ workplace normalcy and how to manage employee expectations when doing so is rising to the forefront of employer’s minds. Becoming prepared for legal responsibilities and covering all of your bases as an employer is essential for managing employee expectations in 2022.
Debra: Quiet quitting is essentially slowly decreasing the amount of work you are doing as an employee so your workload becomes less. It is when an employee no longer gives their full attention to the needs of the organization, and is only mentally present when absolutely required. As HR professionals, we encourage organizations to prioritize their employee engagement programs to minimize the risk of this happening.
Debra: It is a sticky situation (and one you can become extremely liable for as an employer) when it comes to paying employees differently for the same role. If you are offering employees with the same qualifications and job descriptions a higher salary should they choose to work in-person, you could potentially be setting yourself up for a legal mess down the line. Instead of offering differences in pay for coming into the office, consider offering incentives such as paid transportation, free lunches, or flexible office hours. Remember to exercise transparency, resilience, and communication- it is important to have a documentation process to make sure expectations are clear between the employee and the employer.
Ryan: Constructive dismissal is essentially dismissal by construct of the employee’s position. Any significant breach to an employee’s original contract such as a reduction in pay, change in location or job description qualifies as constructive dismissal. A good way to evaluate if you are potentially creating this situation is to conduct a “reasonable person test”. If a “reasonable person” feels that the changes made to a person’s working conditions have changed so much that they are no longer in the same job, then those changes will likely constitute constructive dismissal.
When it comes to an employee wanting to voluntarily restructure their contract for a different work-life balance arrangement, ensure it is in writing. Communicate clear expectations through written communication and have both parties sign off.
Matt: With remote work continuing to be a hot topic as we exit the pandemic, we have seen a rise in the number of people requesting to be treated as independent contractors. The CRA is starting to come after some of the relationships businesses have with contractors. If you are currently working with contractors, ensure their relationship with you meets the tests for independent status to avoid the hassle and expense associated with the CRA declaring someone an employee. Also, be aware that some independent contractors may be considered as “dependent contractors” in British Columbia and you may have obligations to them under the Employment Standards Act.
Judith: 30-40% of disability claims are in relation to mental health issues, and frequently accompany another chronic condition. While the best way to reduce disability claims over time is a well structured wellness program, one of the most effective way to help an employee (or their dependents) is pharmacogenetic testing. Employees with certain chronic conditions, including anxiety and depression, can be tested to determine which medication and what dosage is best suited for their genetic makeup. This allows your employees to avoid the side effects of repeated trial and error periods and helps them get well faster.
We hope the questions discussed above are able to provide expert insight and high-level value to your organization. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization thrive.