August 28, 2021

Ouch! Employee fakes illness to skip work and then gets fired

Every year, sites like Careerbuilder and Workopolis ask hiring managers and HR professionals about the wildest excuses they hear when employees call in sick. And there's no shortage of whoppers, particularly since something like 50 percent of workers admit that they call in sick when they're actually not.

No big deal? Everybody does it, right? Well, the boss is on to you.

One survey found that 29 per cent of employers say they regularly check up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee later in the day.

In addition, another 18 percent have had co-workers call a suspected faker, and 14 percent have even gone so far as to drive by their home for a closer look.

All in all, some 17 percent of employers say they've actually fired employees for giving a fake excuse about being sick.

And you could be next. That's what happened to an Alberta technician who asked his employer for a day off to play in a baseball tournament despite being told that he couldn't have the time off. 

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April 09, 2021

Is telecommuting really on its way out?

Assuming you're one of the lucky few who actually have a job, how does having a four-day work week or at least or a flexible schedule sound?

How about being able to work from home occasionally, or even all the time for that matter?

According to a recent survey, the top reason that people want a flexible job is to find work-life balance, followed by:
  • More time with family
  • Less commuting stress
  • More free time
  • Fewer costs from commuting and work expenses
  • Better health and more exercise
Not all companies see things that way, however.

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December 28, 2021

Unpaid overtime a growing legal problem for many businesses

A 2012 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling may have more companies rethinking how they manage employee overtime.

793500__canadian_money_The court decided that two major unpaid overtime lawsuits against CIBC and Scotiabank can proceed as class actions, alleging that bank employees were expected to work late regularly, but overtime policies made it difficult for staffers to get paid for their extra work.

The lawsuits could prove problematic for many employers — particularly small businesses, which often rely on workers to put in extra hours to get the job done, warns employment lawyer Laura Williams.

For details about these cases, go to

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August 07, 2021

What would happen if we all stopped tipping?

The last time we talked about tipping, most viewed the practice as a necessary evil that protects downtrodden workers from their gouging employers. Not that Canadian workers are as badly off as some.

In the US, a server may make only $2-$3 hourly ($2.13 is the federal minimum hourly wage for tipped workers) whereas in Canada the minimum wage for servers is around $9, depending on where you live.

But, let's face it, nobody would work in a bar or a restaurant for that kind of money alone, although they gladly do so elsewhere. 

In no place other than America are people paid $1 as a standard "thanks" for delicately removing the top off of a glass bottle or pulling a pint, explains one ex-bartender.

The problem: The more we tip, the less servers are paid. The less they're paid, the more we are pressured to tip. The solution: Companies should be forced to pay employees reasonable wages. How do we get there? By tipping less, although that's going to be tough on workers in the short term.

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June 11, 2021

Time to cut retirement benefits for city workers?

In an effort to get out from under mounting pension obligations, voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for municipal workers -- a move that is expected to lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states.

Last week's votes will certainly be challenged by public employee unions, particularly since the measures affect pensions for current employees, not just new hires.

In essence, mid-career workers would be enitled to benefits they had accrued but would see the level of benefits they would earn in the future drop sharply - which unions say is not fair play.

Nonetheless, the mayors of both cities continue to back pension reforms, arguing that changes to city worker pensions were essential to keep municipal budgets in the black.

Could such a thing happen in Canada?

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June 27, 2021

Play hardball with public sector unions, recommends labour lawyer

With the recent postal lockout, the disparity between public and private-sector employees has jumped to the forefront again.

Many Canadians in the private sector, tired of layoffs, wage freezes and rollbacks, as well as the shrinkage in some of their benefits, openly resent their public counterparts’ seemingly cushy working conditions.

Not totally surprising – particularly when you consider public sector wage increases have eclipsed those in the private sector for the past four years.

What’s worse though is that most people (including the majority of MSN readers it seems) really don’t like being held hostage by public sector unions which increase the cost of government almost expotentially.

The solution: Fire the advisors and lawyers who have brought the public to this precipice and aren't ready to play hardball, says labour lawyer Howard Levitt whom, I assume, tends to sit on management's side of these debates.   

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...