Canadian HR Reporter

September 7, 2015

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER September 7, 2015 2 NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E ACROSS CANADA Public servant fired after 5 phoney resumés as government tackles fraud 79 fraud allegations out of 72,000 hires Ashley Madison breach shows dangers of using work emails for personal use Employees desperately need Internet privacy training: Professor Teens fired for observing religious holiday awarded $26,000 from rights tribunal Age group often overlooked: Lawyer AROUND THE WORLD U.K. employers raise growth outlook Expect economy to expand by 2.6 per cent in 2015; 2.8 in 2016 What do breadwinning women want? More help, less stress Companies can differentiate themselves through talent development Employers can be held liable for unprofessional EAP counsellors Tim Hortons not the best setting for private sessions, says arbitrator BY SARAH DOBSON A RECENT arbitration in Nova Scotia involving an EAP counsel- lor serves to highlight the role and responsibilities of these profes- sionals — and their relationship with employers and employees. e arbitrator concluded there were breaches of employee priva- cy and confidentiality, along with unprofessional behaviour. From an EAP point of view, em- ployers trust the people they re- tain, but these professionals may not be as competent as they oth- erwise ought to be, according to Ronald Pink, a lawyer at Pink Lar- kin in Halifax who appeared for the union in the April arbitration. "ere are real governance is- sues from a human resources management process here that need to be dealt with," he said. "ese are all complex workplace issues and... I have lots of sym- pathies for employers because it costs a lot of money to do all this and so we should be just making sure we get it right." e dispute Since 2007, the Halifax Employ- ers Association (HEA) had con- tracted for EAP services with Medavie Blue Cross, which itself subcontracted to Shepell-FGI Consultants. As part of a moni- tored referral procedure, counsel- lors would assess each employee referred to them, pursuant to a policy on employee safety and as- sistance (and its substance abuse program and structured relapse protection program). But the Halifax Longshore- men's Association, Local 269, filed a grievance challenging the administration of the substance abuse program and, in particu- lar, the referral of employees to "Counsellor J." The union felt Counsellor J lacked the proper qualifications, experience, expertise and com- petence to fill the role of EAP co-ordinator. e HEA, however, said the counsellor was qualified — citing several of his qualifica- tions — and said the union did not cite any legislative, regulatory or medical basis for its position Counsellor J must be a specialist in addiction counselling. e union also maintained the counsellor improperly shared intimate and personal informa- tion about employees and went beyond employee consent. For example, he reported to the HEA about one employee's recent can- cer diagnosis and lung surgery. But the HEA said privacy case law can allow for the collection of sensitive personal information if a worker occupies a safety-sensitive position. And the employer was entitled to know of circumstances that could trigger a relapse in an employee with a dependency. e union also felt the coun- sellor was unprofessional in con- ducting sessions in his living room and breached employee privacy by holding sessions at public lo- cations such as Tim Hortons. Arbitrator steps in When it came to the question of the counselor's qualifications, ar- bitrator Michel Picher said there were no provisions in the prov- ince's acts that would prohibit the counsellor from providing the ser- vices he did with the qualifications he possessed, while also stressing his 25 years of experience. But there are no regulations to regulate an addictions practitio- ner's competencies as there are for social workers, physicians or nurses, said Jeff Willbe, interim executive director of the Cana- dian Addiction Counsellors Cer- tification Federation (CACCF). "Anybody can call themselves an addictions counsellor… ere's a hodge podge out there and this needs to be formalized, regula- tions; let's define… what level of competency, what level of knowl- edge and skills are required to practise and call yourself an ad- dictions counsellor, practitioner or therapist." Since the industry is unregulat- ed, a person could be suspended or have her certification taken way, but it doesn't stop her from practising, he said. "If (counsellors) haven't had training in working in addictions, they may not be able to deal with what can sometimes be some pretty complex health and human issues." ere is a need for greater clari- ty around the role of and qualifica- tions of professional counsellors, said Pink. It's about making sure those who do have the power are properly trained, and there's some COUNSELLORS > pg. 3

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