Labour & Employment Law Blog

What employers need to know about helping parents affected by teacher strikes

What employers need to know about helping parents affected by teacher strikes

Strike action by Ontario’s secondary and elementary teachers has left some parents scrambling to find childcare over the past few months and is set to resume after the March break if a deal with the provincial government is not reached.  Therefore, this is a good time to remind employers that they must be mindful of their responsibility to accommodate employees as much as reasonably possible. That will not only promote workplace harmony but ensures compliance with Ontario’s Human Rights Code, 1990 (“Code”).

The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) states that employees who have worked for a company for at least two consecutive weeks can take up to three unpaid but protected family responsibility leave days each calendar year. These unpaid days help employees faced with an illness, injury or an urgent matter relating to a family member to take protected leave.  A childcare emergency prompted by a strike day arguably falls into this category.

Some employers may feel that providing this accommodation would result in undue hardship to the company and that it should be up to the employee to make alternative childcare arrangements while coming to work. However, it is recommended all employers find ways to accommodate those affected by the strike action, possibly through flexible work hour scheduling, unpaid leave or work-from-home arrangements.

Employers must consider each request for accommodation on an individual basis and any remedy has to be tailored to the type of work that is being done, since an office worker will have more job flexibility than a shift worker in an auto plant, for example. The size of the company and the number of employees requesting accommodation strikes are other factors that have to be considered.

Since people who take this leave are entitled to the same rights as those who take pregnancy or parental leave, employers cannot threaten, fire or penalize an employee who takes or plans on taking a family responsibility leave.  While the above rules apply to the majority of workplaces, certain professionals – such as health practitioners — may not be eligible for family responsibility leave under the ESA, as their absence may constitute an act of professional misconduct or a dereliction of professional duty. However, in addition to the ESA, Ontario employers are also reminded of their obligation to accommodate employees to the point of undue hardship under the Code. This means that they have both a procedural obligation to make reasonable inquiries into accommodation opportunities as well as a substantive duty to accommodate employees under the “family status” ground.

Employers can also remind staff members that the Ontario government is providing financial support of up to $60 per day for parents during this strike. Click here for more information and eligibility criteria.

At Zeilikman Law, we are strictly employment and labour lawyers. We help employees and employers on a daily basis with their workplace issues across the Greater Toronto Area, Vaughan, North York, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket and numerous other places in Ontario. Call us today at (905) 417-2227 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our employment lawyers at our offices.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.