Labour and Employment


For over forty-five years, we have represented the interests of employers of both federally and provincially regulated companies in the public and private sectors. Our clientele is composed of local, national, and international companies and institutions in a wide range of economic sectors.

Lavery has more than forty lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of labour and employment law, including specialists in pension plans, human rights, occupational health and safety, labour relations, and employment law. The extensive experience and skills of these specialists are widely recognized in the field of labour law. Lavery’s expertise in this field is recommended by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory.

When appropriate, these experts work with other lawyers specialized in privacy law, the protection of personal information, and the immigration of skilled workers, whose expertise may be required to resolve complex issues arising in the workplace. Our clients can thus count on the skills of a strong, thorough, multidisciplinary team.

The services offered by our team cover every aspect of labour law, from providing strategic advice to representation before administrative and judicial bodies and the negotiation of agreements.


Labour law

  • Strategic advice, particularly on mergers and acquisitions and business turnaround
  • Negotiation of collective agreements
  • Grievance and dispute arbitration
  • Representation in matters involving penal complaints
  • Mediation in all its forms
  • Negotiation support in matters involving dismissal and termination of employment
  • Extraordinary remedies, judicial reviews, injunctions
  • Assistance with matters involving pay equity and employment equity programs
  • Representation in all matters pertaining to union certification
  • Management of work attendance and job performance

Employment law

  • Strategic advice, particularly on mergers and acquisitions and business turnaround
  • Negotiation and drafting of employment agreements and complementary agreements such as non-compete and non-solicitation agreements and agreements to assign intellectual property rights
  • Advice regarding privacy and the protection of personal information in the workplace
  • Representation in complaints made under the Employment Standards Act, including complaints of psychological harassment and dismissal without good and sufficient cause
  • Mediation in all its forms
  • Assistance and representation in matters involving dismissal and termination of employment
  • Extraordinary remedies, judicial reviews, injunctions
  • Management of work attendance and job performance

Human rights

  • Strategic advice
  • Assistance and representation in matters involving complaints filed with Québec's Commission de la personne et de la jeunesse
  • Representation before Québec's Commission de la personne et de la jeunesse and the Human Rights Tribunal

Occupational Health and Safety

  • Financing
  • Compensation
  • Management of occupational injury files
  • Reconciliation of industrial accident files
  • Representation before the courts

Advisory role

  • Advise managers on general issues related to the laws and principles governing labour relations, human rights, and occupational health and safety
  • Assist managers in the administration of collective agreements
  • Analyze the financial and organizational impact of management decisions regarding labour relations
  • Analyze financial issues related to workers' compensation claims including the financial impact of the imputation of the cost of benefits required under the Act
  • Regularly update managers on changes to legislation governing labour, human rights, and occupational health and safety
  • Offer personalized training of managers based on their needs and those of the organization

Our team recommends a practical, pro-active approach to quickly resolving problems. When litigation or confrontation becomes inevitable, however, our experts are prepared to diligently and efficiently promote the best interests of employers.

Top Ranked Chambers Canada Lavery Lawyers

Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  1. Clarifications regarding the application of mandatory disclosure rules to severance agreements

    On November 2, 2023, in response to certain controversy, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) sought to clarify the application of the new disclosure rules, in force since June 22, 2023. The CRA’s comments relate, in particular, to the impact of reporting obligations on severance agreements, a topic we initially covered a few weeks ago1. We believe it is appropriate to go over these clarifications. As a reminder, the disclosure rules generally apply to so-called avoidance transactions carried out to obtain a tax benefit and presenting one of the following three generic hallmarks: contingent fee arrangements, confidential protection or contractual protection. At first glance, the interpretation of these hallmarks suggests that severance agreements involving an employee’s undertaking to indemnify their employer are subject to reporting obligations. However, in response to questions from a number of legal experts, the CRA commented on the disclosure rules, specifying, in particular, that a tax indemnity granted under a severance agreement is not subject to the reporting obligation where it occurs in a business or financial context between persons dealing at arm’s length, and acting freely and prudently. In this regard, the CRA pointed out that the contractual protection included in such an agreement would not be considered a generic hallmark insofar as it does not cover a tax treatment giving rise to an unwarranted benefit. The CRA gave as an example a settlement reached between an employer and employee further to dismissal, harassment complaints or other employment-related recourses, providing for severance pay or warranted damages. Even if the employee were to undertake to reimburse the employer in the event of unexpected tax treatment, this type of agreement would not give rise to reporting obligations. Although the CRA’s clarifications were meant to clear things up, they did not definitively establish how the mandatory disclosure rules apply to severance agreements. A certain level of uncertainty remains with regard to severance agreements with no real legal basis awarding tax-free damages to an employee. In such a case, it would be difficult to argue that the business context warranted a favourable tax treatment for the employee. In the case of an agreement providing for the payment of unwarranted damages, and where contractual protection extends to the tax treatment of the amount paid, the avoidance transaction may, despite the CRA’s comments, require disclosure to the tax authorities. One thing is certain: tax indemnity clauses may well disappear from severance agreements.  Ultimately, the new rules reinforce the principle that the granting of tax-free damages should be limited to circumstances that warrant it. Quebec case law has long established that the mere fact of losing one’s job does not give rise to damages, barring exceptional circumstances. In short, the CRA’s guidelines do not have the force of law, and may be amended or revoked at any time. Consequently, maintaining a cautious and conservative approach will be crucial when determining whether the new mandatory disclosure rules apply to severance agreements. Our team of employment law and tax professionals is available to answer your questions about these major changes and help you make informed decisions when negotiating severance agreements. Termination agreements: New reporting requirements apply!

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  2. Termination agreements: New reporting requirements apply!

    On June 22, 2023, the federal government significantly expanded the reporting requirements for certain so-called avoidance transactions, in particular with respect to termination agreements.1 The new rules will make it easier for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to detect certain avoidance schemes, conduct tax audits and issue notices of assessment and penalties more quickly when warranted. The reporting requirements now apply to reportable transactions defined as avoidance transactions, which are primarily aimed at obtaining a tax benefit. If these avoidance transactions involve one of the three markers set out by the Minister of Finance: contingent fee arrangement, confidential protection or contractual protection, they must be reported to the CRA in accordance with the rules in force. These enhanced rules cover a large number of transactions, in particular those which are part of agreements made specifically in the context of end-of-employment negotiations. In settlements between an employer and an employee following termination, harassment complaints or other employment-related disputes, damages may be awarded as part of the negotiation process. However, the award of these damages, which are normally granted in situations where the employee has suffered personal or moral harm, may not always have a strong legal foundation. In some cases, these damages may be part of a tax-driven strategy: while severance payments are taxable as employment income or as a retirement allowance, damages may be tax-exempt. This type of agreement allows the employer to pay less while maximizing the net amount for the recipient. An agreement providing for the payment of a tax-free amount for damages usually includes an undertaking by the employee to indemnify the employer when a tax audit concludes that the payment should be taxable. The new reporting requirements are likely to prevent these types of settlements in cases where it is reasonable to conclude that their main purpose is to obtain an unfair tax benefit. These avoidance transactions also exhibit the hallmark of contractual protection, which refers to a protection or guarantee against any failure of the transaction to produce a tax advantage. This is the case when the employee agrees to compensate the employer following a tax recalculation. Such contractual agreements now meet the new reporting criteria. In these transactions, the reporting obligation is incumbent on the employee (i.e., the person who obtains the tax benefit), the employer (i.e., the person who completes the transaction), and the advisor who obtains fees for setting up the transaction. They have 90 days from the time they entered into the transaction to submit Form RC312 to the CRA. Failure to do so will result in penalties and an extension of the normal reassessment period. As a result, it is inevitable that these updated rules will be taken into account when negotiating termination settlements, and it will be particularly important to review all agreements made since June 23, 2023. Our team of employment law and tax professionals is available to answer your questions about this major change and help you make informed decisions when negotiating termination agreements. Bill C-47: An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023

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  3. Payroll deductions: what employers need to know about changes to provincial income tax rates

    On March 21, 2023, during his traditional budget speech, the Minister of Finance of Québec announced that Quebecers will benefit from a general reduction in personal income taxes starting in 2023. The effect will be a reduction in the tax rates that apply to the first two taxable income brackets of the personal income tax table. In addition to having a positive impact on Quebecers’ disposable income, the tax cut will also have repercussions on source deduction rates applied to certain payments and remuneration. The fixed rates used for provincial income tax source deductions on lump-sum payments have been changed. Employers will therefore have to adjust their calculations for such payments. This will be the case, for example, where sums are paid as retiring allowances, as is frequently the case in the settlement of certain employment termination agreements. Previously, the rate used to calculate provincial income tax source deductions on a retiring allowance payment was 15% for amounts up to $5,000, and 20% for payments over $5,000. The income tax deductions on such payments made after June 30, 2023, is now 14% for amounts up to $5,000, and 19% for payments over $5,000. Table of provincial and federal income tax source deduction rates for lump-sum payments, effective July 1, 2023, by amount of lump-sum payment (e.g. retiring allowance): $5,000 or less Provincial tax rate 14% Federal tax rate 5% Over $5,000 up to $15,000 Provincial tax rate 19% Federal tax rate 10% Over $15,000 Provincial tax rate 19% Federal tax rate 15% Although it may seem trivial, this review of provincial income tax source deduction rates has far-reaching implications, given that these are often used by parties especially in the negotiation of employment termination agreements. Human resources and payroll professionals must use the new income tax source deductions in their employment termination negotiations to ensure that they are tax compliant. A positive outcome of these rates is that employees will now have more disposable income after tax for the same amount paid by their employer. Such a measure could make reaching an agreement easier in the context of tough negotiations. As an employer, it is essential that you update your payroll systems and processes to correctly reflect the new income tax rates and ensure tax compliance. Our team of labour law and tax professionals is available to answer your questions about this change and help you make informed decisions that will benefit your business.

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  4. New Employment Obligations for Federally Regulated Businesses

    On July 9, 2023, major amendments to the Canada Labour Code 1 (the “Code”) came into force, and further amendments are set to come into force shortly. These amendments relate to Part III of the Code, which covers labour standards. They were provided for in the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 2, which was assented to on December 13, 2018, but are only now coming into force. They essentially provide for three new obligations for employers, namely that they must (1) reimburse employees for reasonable work-related expenses, (2) provide employees with a written employment statement containing information relating to their employment and (3) provide employees with information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations. New provisions of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations 3 (the “Regulations”) have also been adopted to clarify these new obligations. REIMBURSEMENT OF REASONABLE WORK-RELATED EXPENSES With this first amendment, the government sought to compensate for the fact that it can be difficult for an employee to be reimbursed for work-related expenses, such as work uniforms, equipment needed to perform their duties and travel or training expenses, given that these are not included in the definition of wages set out in Part III of the Code.   It is also unlikely that employees would claim such expenses through legal action against their employer. The adoption of new provisions in this regard makes it easier for employees to have any reasonable work-related expenses they have incurred reimbursed. Under the new section 238.1 of the Code, an employee working in a federally regulated business is entitled to be reimbursed by their employer for reasonable work-related expenses. To process a claim for payment, the employer must assess the reasonableness of the expense and whether it is work-related. The new section 23.1 of the Regulations provides for a series of factors to consider in order to determine whether an expense is reasonable and work-related, particularly whether the expense is connected to the employee’s performance of work, whether it is required by the employer as a condition of employment or continued employment, whether it is incurred for a legitimate business purpose and not for personal use or enjoyment, whether the employer authorized it in advance and whether it is incurred by the employee in good faith. The employer must reimburse such expenses within 30 days of the day on which the employee submitted their claim for payment unless a written agreement or collective agreement specifies a different time limit. EMPLOYMENT STATEMENT Currently, federally regulated private sector employers are not required to provide documentation of employment status to their employees. Under the new section 253.2 of the Code, employers must provide employees with a written employment statement within their first 30 days of employment. This obligation comes into force 90 days after July 9, 2023. The new section 3.1 of the Regulations provides for 13 elements that must be included in an employment statement, including the employee’s job title, a brief description of their duties and responsibilities, the address of their ordinary place of work, the term of the employment, the duration of the probationary period, if any, a description of the necessary qualifications and any required training for the position, the employee’s hours of work and rules regarding overtime hours, and the employee’s rate of wages or salary. Employers must also provide employees with an updated version of the employment statement reflecting any change in the information it contains within 30 days of such change. Employers must retain a copy of these documents for 36 months following termination of employment. INFORMATION RESPECTING EMPLOYERS’ AND EMPLOYEES’ RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS Under the new section 253.1 of the Code, employers must, within the first 30 days of employment, provide each employee with “any materials that the Minister makes available and that contains information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations” as set out in Part III of the Code. Employers will also be required to provide employees with updated versions of these materials within 30 days of such versions becoming available. This new provision also requires employers to post and “keep posted” the most recent version of these materials “in readily accessible places where it is likely to be seen by employees.” Lastly, when an employer terminates an employee’s employment, the employer must, “not later than the last day of the employee’s employment,” provide the employee with the above-mentioned materials “that relate to terminations of employment.” These obligations come into force 90 days after July 9, 2023. ADMINISTRATIVE MONETARY PENALTIES The Administrative Monetary Penalties (Canada Labour Code) Regulations designate and classify violations of the provisions of Parts II and III of the Code and its regulations for which an administrative monetary penalty can be issued. Amendments have been made to these regulations to include the new obligations mentioned above, and to classify violations. Failure to comply with these new obligations exposes the employer to penalties ranging from $200 to $6,000, depending on the size of the business and the provision that has been violated. *** All federally regulated businesses must take note of these provisions to properly understand their new obligations. These provisions call for swift action on the part of concerned employers, especially to avoid monetary penalties. Do not hesitate to contact our team members for more information or any advice regarding these changes. R.S.C. (1985), c. L-2. S.C. 2018, c. 2. C.R.C., c. 986.

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  1. Catherine Deslauriers, Guy Lavoie, Éric Thibaudeau and Lavery named as a reference by the 2022 Canadian Occupational Safety – 5-Star Safety Lawyers & Law Firms

    July 12, 2022 – Catherine Deslauriers, Guy Lavoie, Eric Thibaudeau and Lavery have been named as a reference in Occupational Health and Safety by Canadian Occupational Safety – 5-Star Safety Lawyers & Law Firms. To determine the best lawyers and law firms catering to the safety industry, Canadian Occupational Safety sourced feedback from safety leaders over a period of 15 weeks. COS’s research team began by conducting a survey with a wide range of safety officers to determine what companies value in the law firms they collaborate with.

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  2. Lexpert recognizes two partners as leading workers’ compensation lawyers in Quebec

    On February 10, 2021, Lexpert unveiled the identity of Québec’s leading lawyers in the field of workers’ compensation. Two Lavery partners, Guy Lavoie and Éric Thibaudeau, appear among the top lawyers in this area of practice. Guy Lavoie is a partner with the Labour and employment law group. His clients’ business concerns are always a priority when he proposes strategies and alternatives designed to resolve their problems. With over 30 years’ experience in labour relations, employment law, and occupational health and safety, he appears regularly before various administrative tribunals. He also works with the firm’s Business law group on the labour and employment law aspects of mergers and acquisitions. Éric Thibaudeau is a partner and a member of the Labour and Employment Group. He has special expertise in the area of occupational health and safety, regarding issues within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Labour Tribunal (ALT) as well as penal infractions prosecuted by the CNESST that are heard in the Court of Québec’s Criminal and Penal Division. He also acts for employers in grievance arbitrations, labour-relations matters and collective agreement decrees. In addition, he advises construction contractors and project owners on all matters within the jurisdiction of the construction industry regulatory authorities, such as the Commission de la construction du Québec and the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.

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  3. Lavery's expertise recognized by Chambers Canada 2021

    Lavery has been recognized in the following fields as a leader in the 2021 edition of the Chambers Canada guide: Corporate/Commercial (Québec Band 1, Highly Regarded) Employment and Labour (Québec Band 2) Energy and Natural Resources: Mining (Nationwide Band 5) The lawyers and law firms profiled in Chambers Canada are selected following through a rigorous process of research and interviews with a broad spectrum of lawyers and their clients. The final selection is based on clearly defined criteria such as the quality of client service, legal expertise, and commercial astuteness. Learn more about our professionals who have once again been recognized in Chambers Canada Guide 2021.. 

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