Canadian HR Reporter

July 13, 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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 17 of 19

CANADIAN HR REPORTER July 13, 2015 18 INSIGHT PARTY BUS OVERFLOWS VICTORIA — Bus drivers have to be prepared for all kinds of abuse when it comes to rude or unruly passengers. But one Victoria driver recently found herself facing a new kind of assault as she was driving a double-decker bus downtown on a Saturday night, according to the National Post. A group of 40 passengers on the upper level, who had had too much to drink, started vomiting and urinating. " at fl u- id, as the operator was pulling into one of the stops, starting to leak down onto her head, face, as well as her eyes and onto her clothing," said Ben Williams, president of BC Transit's union Unifor Local 333. e driver then called the transit supervisor, who took her to the hospital to have her eyes fl ushed and her blood tested for infections. e following Monday, the driver had not reported the incident to police but BC Transit said it was carrying out its own investigation. "It's obviously an extremely stress- ful situation," said Williams. "You can't really prepare someone to have such an awful situation hap- pen to them." THUMBS DOWN TO CANADA FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — Cana- dian musicians Celine Dion and Justin Bieber may be huge musi- cians, but they're not that popular with Walmart employees in the United States, according to the Washington Post. At the compa- ny's annual general meeting, ex- ecutives announced a CD on loop in the stores — featuring Dion and Bieber, among others — would be ditched, to be replaced by Wal- Mart Radio, where a DJ spins tunes that are pumped through the stores. e change is among several planned by the retail chain to boost employee morale while also improving customer service, including a boost in wages, a more relaxed dress code and changing store temperatures. THE DON DRAPER EFFECT NEW YORK — When employees imbibe a little too much, the next day can be especially hard. But the Hangover Club in New York City provides a solution: It sends nurses with intravenous hydra- tion and other medicine to relieve people in homes and offi ces with a hangover. The service, which delivers IV electrolytes, headache and nausea medicine and various vitamins, can cost up to US$250, according to CNN Money. Since his service began nine months ago, co-founder Asa Kitfi eld says busi- ness has doubled every month and in May, there were about 300 IV drips. So, which industries need the most nursing? Advertising tops the list, followed by fi nance, corporate law, Internet/media and, lastly, public relations, found a survey of 500 of the club's clients. ese fi elds are centred around entertaining clients, said Kitfi eld, who was formerly in advertising. "When clients have big budgets with you, they want to be enter- tained," he said. " e same thing goes for fi nance and these lawyers. We would go out pretty hard and the next day would be rough." KEEPING IT DOWN LOW JERUSALEM — Despite being considerably elevated in their jobs, female fl ight attendants for Israe- li's national carrier are looking to lower their "stature." e women are unhappy with El Al's directive around high heels. Under an old policy, female attendants were required to wear high heels at the airport, but could change into fl ats on the plane before passenger boarding. Now? e airline wants the women to stay in the heels throughout boarding, according to the Associated Press. e direc- tive to wear "presentable shoes'' is standard in aviation worldwide, said El Al, but the workers' union has told the fl ight attendants to ig- nore the order. e airline's stance was "aggressive'' and the policy would impact the fl ight attendants' safety and health, said the union. Female Israeli lawmakers and a women's group also called on the airline to dump the policy. W EIRD ORKPLACE THE Vol. 28 No. 12 – July 13, 2015 PUBLISHED BY Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. One Corporate Plaza 2075 Kennedy Rd. Toronto, ON M1T 3V4 ©Copyright 2015 by Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. All rights reserved. CANADIAN HR REPORTER is published 21 times a year. Publications Mail – Agreement # 40065782 Registration # 9496 – ISSN 0838-228X Director, Carswell Media: Karen Lorimer - (416) 649-9411 Publisher: John Hobel - (416) 298-5197 EDITORIAL Associate Publisher/Managing Editor: Todd Humber - (416) 298-5196 Lead Editor: Sarah Dobson - (416) 649-7896 News Editor: Liz Bernier - (416) 649-7837 Employment Law Editor: Jeffrey R. Smith - (416) 649-7881 Labour Relations News Editor: Sabrina Nanji - (416) 649-9348 Labour Relations News Editor: Liz Foster - (416) 298-5129 Web/IT Co-ordinator: Mina Patel - (416) 649-7879 ADVERTISING Account Executive: Stephen Hill - (416) 298-5090 Account Executive: Nicholas Cholodny - (647) 537-4705 Production Co-ordinator: Pamela Menezes - (416) 649-9298 MARKETING AND CIRCULATION Marketing Manager: Mohammad Ali - (416) 609-5866 Marketing Co-ordinator: Keith Fulford - (416) 649-9585 PRODUCTION Manager, Media Production: Lisa Drummond - (416) 649-9415 Art Director: Dave Escuadro SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual subscription: $169 (plus GST) GST#: 897 176 350 RT To subscribe, call one of the customer service numbers listed above or visit Address changes and returns: Send changes and undeliverable Canadian addresses to: SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Canadian HR Reporter One Corporate Plaza 2075 Kennedy Rd. Toronto, ON M1T 3V4 ❑ From time to time, we make our subscriber list available to companies and organizations whose products and services we believe may be of interest to you. If you do not want your name to be made available, please check here and return with your mailing label. CUSTOMER SERVICE Call: (416) 609-3800 (Toronto) (800) 387-5164 (outside Toronto) Fax: (416) 298-5082 (Toronto) (877) 750-9041 (outside Toronto) Email: carswell.customerrelations@ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CHRR reserves the right to edit for length and clarity. Todd Humber Editor's Notes HR has to be voice of reason I rarely miss an episode of the Daily Show, and last month guest Bill Clinton uttered a memorable quote from Win- ston Churchill: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they've tried everything else." Churchill was talking about the United States' delay in entering the fi ght against Germany in the Second World War. But that same quote could sometimes be applied to employers — they eventually do the right thing, but only after do- ing some very silly things. at's one of the reasons I'm a voracious reader of Canadian Employment Law Today, a sis- ter publication to Canadian HR Reporter. You often get a sample of its contents on page 5, where employment law editor Jeffrey R. Smith runs through the facts of a recent court case. I'm always fl oored by some of the strange things employers and employees alike do in the workplace. Grocery giant Loblaw recently found itself on the losing end of a PR nightmare after it asked some of its workers in Surrey, B.C., to repay thousands of dollars after it discovered an error in the amount given to some workers following a store conversion. In January, the grocery chain sent a letter to employees of an Extra Foods store that was being converted to a Your Independent Grocer (YIG) outlining options for the conversion. In a sample let- ter, addressed to Connor Green- well, a part-time cashier with nine years' tenure, the company gave the worker two options: Buydown: Greenwell's employ- ment would switch to YIG, with diff erent terms of employment and a diff erent benefi ts package. In exchange for this, Greenwell was offered an estimated buy- down of $15,000. e letter stated the maximum buydown for part- time workers was $15,000 and $75,000 for full-time employees. Transfer: Greenwell's employ- ment would continue with YIG under the same terms as Extra Foods — including hourly rate of pay, current benefi ts entitlement (not necessarily the same pro- vider), wage progression, pen- sion contribution rate, vacation entitlement and premiums such as manager relief rate and night shift. Other terms of employ- ment would shift, though, based on the diff erences in the employee handbooks between Extra Foods and YIG. Greenwell chose the buydown option and signed the letter on Jan. 29, 2015. On May 26, Green- well got a letter from Loblaw ad- vising of an "overstated estimated payment and subsequent over- payment." It requested immediate repayment of $6,262.50. She had no more than 20 days to repay the money. If not, the employer would start legal action. Greenwell wasn't the only em- ployee the company went after — there were about 20 in all who chose the buydown option and were overpaid, in Loblaw's eyes. Greenwell and some of her col- leagues took their case to the me- dia, where they found a very sym- pathetic ear in the CBC. It didn't take long for the company to do a predictable about face — it quick- ly apologized to its employees and dropped the repayment demands. In an email statement to the CBC, the company said: " rough ongoing discussions with those employees, we under- stand that our request for repay- ment may have come across as insensitive, given that some em- ployees may have made saving, spending or investing decisions relying on the overpayment. Ac- cordingly, we have apologized for any inconvenience and will not seek repayment." It's not even clear Loblaw had much legal leverage in the fi rst place. After all, the workers had signed an acceptance off er for the buydown and been paid the funds in exchange for giving up certain terms of employment — includ- ing lower wages and a diff erent benefi ts package. at certainly sounds like a contract. Loblaw did the right thing in the end — but it turned into a PR headache when it didn't need to be. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it's pretty easy to tell when the company is on a bad path. Not all of this is in HR's control, but it needs to be the voice of reason during conversations like this. A CFO would want the money returned, no questions asked — fi nance simply wants the balance sheets to line up. But HR under- stands the big picture: reaten- ing legal action against your most valuable assets for a mistake you made may not be the best move. When a move like this hits the evening news, it's not only bad for the brand, it's also bad for the morale and engagement of the thousands of workers who are the backbone of the company. It's just another example of the critical role HR professionals play, and yet another hat you have to wear as the voice of reason. 'YOUR MIC IS STILL ON' WINNIPEG — Police in Winnipeg were red-faced recently after an incident involving a helicopter and an open mic. Offi cers on a routine helicopter patrol inad- vertently activated the aircraft's public address system while having a private conversation — and a lewd one at that. News of the R-rated conversation took off on Twitter as city residents who could hear the conver- sation took to social media to urge the police to turn off their loudspeaker, according to Reuters. "Does the #Winnipeg chopper realize the entire West End can hear their convo about blow jobs right now?" tweeted one person listening from her backyard. When the police became aware of the situation, they immediately turned the system off . "Some content of the conversation was inappropriate. e involved members were not able to hear the public address system from within the aircraft," said the police, who are reviewing the incident. Credit: Tomacco/Shutterstock

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian HR Reporter - July 13, 2015