Thursday, September 22, 2016
Richard Johnson

If David Letterman taught us nothing else (and we would argue he taught us a fair bit), it was that everyone appreciates a good Top Ten list.  To be fair, though, Dave had humour on his side. Legal top tens don’t tend to have the same appeal as a list entitled “Top Ten Ways the World Would Be Different if Everyone was Named Phil”.

Having said that, we’re hopeful that what our list lacks in laughs, it makes up for in practicality. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are our top ten employment law tips for British Columbia workplaces – the first five aimed at employers, with the remaining five geared towards employees:


  1. When collecting personal information from your workers, collect only what you need and be transparent about how and why you’ll use it.
  2. Make sure you have policies and procedures in place to address workplace bullying and harassment – the law requires it.
  3. You don’t have to provide your employees with medical or health benefits, but once you do, your workers may have a right to receive them going forward.
  4. Include a clause in your employee contracts that sets out the employee’s financial rights on termination. Draft these “severance-limiting” clauses with care to avoid any ambiguity or inconsistency with provincial legislation (or better yet, ask an employment lawyer to do it for you).
  5. Just calling your worker an independent contractor doesn’t make it true. It’s the nature of the relationship between you that matters in the eyes of the law.


  1. You are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to get legal advice on an employment contract before you sign it and start work.
  2. If you are off work on medical leave, your employer is allowed to ask you for information about your health and recovery, including your prognosis and expected return-to-work date.
  3. If your company is sold and your employment continues unchanged, your new employer is responsible for any severance you are owed when your employment ends.
  4. Your employer may dismiss you at any time and for any reason, so long as it does not violate human rights laws and provides you with the notice or severance you are entitled to under the law.
  5. If you’re unionized, you may not sue your employer for wrongful dismissal. Rather, you have to follow the grievance process set out in your collective agreement.

Richard Johnson
Employment law and human rights matters