Inflation is rising. Interest rates are up. And, for the first time in a long time, labour disputes are making headlines. CN Rail was struck on June 18, 2022. Workers at The Bay hit picket lines on June 22, 2022. Via Rail was on the verge of a labour dispute last week.
Employers across the board are seeing new lists of “late-pandemic” / inflationary / supply chain related demands. Six months into 2022, we surveyed our lawyers who have been sitting at and supporting employers at bargaining tables and asked them, what are we seeing that we haven’t seen since our most senior colleagues were articling students? Here are five noteworthy developments:
- Remote work. Unions are seeking to negotiate work from home programs into collective agreements. These go both ways – protections for employees who want to work from home and for those who don’t want to work from home. They are also seeking to limit the use of electronic monitoring tools in relation to employees working from home.
- Pandemic pay. Unions are looking for two things: pay when employees are required to be off work during a pandemic and pay premiums for those working during a pandemic. They are also seeking benefit continuance language so employees off work can maintain their health benefits.
- Income security measures. Unions are looking for ways to offset employees’ lost earnings due to layoff or temporary leave of absence. Things like negotiated Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) programs, income tops-ups, pre-retirement income bridging and supplemental payments to employees on maternity, parental or caregiving leaves.
- Inflationary increases. Not only to base rates, but also to premium rates.
- Disconnecting from work. Capitalizing on the new requirement for most Ontario employers to have a Disconnecting From Work Policy, unions are trying to negotiate right to disconnect provisions. These are aimed not only at limiting workplace communication outside of work hours, but also at allowing employees to refuse to answer work-related emails, messages or calls during their non-work hours.
You, our clients, contacts and friends, represent the broadest labour and employment community touched by any law firm in this country. We are interested in what you are seeing. If you are seeing demands that you have not seen before, let us know in the brief survey below. If it is “business as usual”, let us know that as well. If you are seeing demands from non-union employees or candidates that you have not seen before, let us know that too. We will share the survey results with our community in a follow-up post. If you are fine with being quoted in that post, let us know. We will otherwise treat your input as anonymous if we share it with others.
We look forward to hearing from you.