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Hamilton Employment Law

Ed Canning has been practicing exclusively in the areas of employment law and human rights for 23 years in the City of Hamilton, representing both employers and employees. For 20 years, he has been writing a bi-weekly column in The Hamilton Spectator on employment law and human rights issues that are of interest to both employers and employees. In this blog, you can have access to approximately 500 articles on various subject matters ranging from Employment Standards Act issues, wrongful dismissal issues to human rights issues.

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Blog Posts

Can the boss change my vacation schedule?

QUESTION:  With my boss’s approval I had scheduled my third week of vacation for this year over the Christmas/New Year period. Yesterday she told me my vacation was cancelled as a result of business volumes and other staff being off at that time. I scheduled this time off months ago and it seems very unfair to me to have it suddenly yanked.  Can she do this? If I insist on taking the holiday despite her objection can she fire me?

Employees' rights when employer is bankrupt

In the last few months I have been receiving more and more calls from employees inquiring as to what their rights are when their employer goes bankrupt or into receivership. Unfortunately, these are very frustrating discussions because almost all the news I have to give them is bad.

Resigning won't get you more money

QUESTION: I have worked for my employer for about 4 years. The industry in which I work is going through a tough time and there have been a number of layoffs in our offices over the last couple of months. I am in a non-management business analyst position and I think that my role is going to be one of the next ones to be chopped. If I submitted a resignation in writing effective 6 months from now, and a few weeks later they decided to terminate me, would they have to pay me out for the rest of the 6 months?

Is it a Constructive Dismissal and How do you handle the commissions?

QUESTION: For 8 years I have been paid a combination of salary plus commission. When the last fiscal year ended, my employer told me that in the future I would not be receiving commission but only straight salary. My salary was increased. A month later, the previous year’s results came in and I realized that I had had a stellar year. While I got paid my salary and commission for the last fiscal year, I realized that if my sales continued the way they were, I would have been far better off with the combination of salary and commission, even though my salary had been increased as a result of the recent change. Have I been constructively dismissed? Is there anything I can short of suing for wrongful dismissal to get this loss of money back?


When someone is terminated from their employment without adequate notice and hires a lawyer to negotiate a better package, it is usually quite a simple thing for the employer and employee to agree what the monthly income was.  Clearly, where a salary makes up most of the remuneration, the monthly income is simply a mathematical calculation.  A judge awarding damages for lack of adequate notice will attempt to put the employee in the same position she would have been in if she had received proper notice.  That exercise becomes a little bit tricky, however, when a significant part of the employee=s pay was made up of commission.


Employees cannot generally be required to work more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week in Ontario.  There are some exceptions to this rule.  One of those exceptions is that if an employee was hired before September 4, 2001, when the new legislation took effect, and has an arrangement with the employer that provides that the employee is willing to work, at the employer=s request, more hours per day than the number of hours in her regular work day, the 8-hour limit does not apply.  The arrangement does not have to be in writing.  If both parties have agreed to revoke the arrangement, of course, it no longer exists. 


QUESTION: After 22 years of uninterrupted service, my employer has advised me that I am on temporary lay-off with no set date for recall to work.  While my boss was telling me this, he as much as admitted that they were simply trying to delay having to pay me severance.  Can they do this?


QUESTION: I am a manager at a hotel and a salaried employee.  While my pay cheque always indicates that I work 40 hours per week, it never changes regardless of how many hours I work. At one time, I did not really mind putting in the extra hours but there have been staff cutbacks recently and more and more hours have been demanded of me.  Am I entitled to overtime or paid time off in exchange for these overtime hours?


QUESTION: I have a fairly labour intensive job.  I usually get a half hour lunch in every 8-hour shift. For production scheduling reasons, my employer has recently told me that instead of one 2 hour break in the middle of my shift, I must move to 2 breaks; one break of 10 minutes after 2 hours and another break of 20 minutes after 3 hours.  I don't like it.  Do I have to do it?


QUESTION: I have worked for a company for the last 10 years and the company is presently in dire financial circumstances.  Our pay cheques have been late a few times and it seems like the bank may foreclose at any minute.  Right now, I am owed an unpaid guaranteed bonus that was due 2 months ago as well as 3 weeks of outstanding vacation pay.  If the company goes bankrupt, how can I get this money?