Expanding borders? Expand those policies

Setting up shop in another jurisdiction usually requires a rethinking of workplace policies to ensure compliance with local laws
By Stuart Rudner
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/23/2009

Canadian HR professionals and employment lawyers often criticize foreign organizations for failing to take into account the fact Canadian employment law differs from the laws in other countries. However, they frequently make the same mistake when it comes to distinctions between jurisdictions within Canada. In order to protect an organization as best as possible, HR professionals, or those tasked with drafting and implementing policies and procedures, should ensure they are compliant with the laws of each jurisdiction in which they have employees.

In the context of just cause dismissals, policies that set out the types of behaviour that are unacceptable — ensuring those policies are distributed to all employees and are routinely enforced — are very important for employers to have so there can be no defence of ignorance or condonation. Employers should regularly review existing policies and update them in order to keep up with changes in the law and in the workplace. For example, although many organizations have policies addressing Internet and e-mail usage, relatively few have policies which address the recent issues surrounding the use of social networking sites such as FaceBook and MySpace. Even the best written policy manual will lose value over time if it is left to collect dust on a shelf.