Labour Law vs Employment Law
It’s common to think that Labour Law and Employment Law go hand in hand. Most lawyers who practice in one area or the other will even frequently lump them together. However, there is a key difference between the two.
Labour Law is the law that deals with employees represented by a union. In Ontario, roughly 1/3 of the working population is represented by a union. These unionized workplaces are under contracts called Collective Bargaining Agreements that determine the terms and conditions of the workplace. When these employees have workplace issues, the union is usually the one representing them in their dispute.
Employment law is the law that covers non-unionized employees in Ontario, or the other 2/3 of the working population. These are the employees that fall mostly under the Employment Standards Act, or in some industries under the Canada Labour Code. These employees can hire an employment lawyer to help them resolve their workplace disputes.
What Does My Union Do?
If you are part of a union at your workplace, you are party to a collective agreement setting out the conditions of employment such as wages, hours of work, and overtime pay. The content of the collective agreement is determined through a process called “collective bargaining”. This is all paid for by your union due, which you pay with each paycheck. Your employer subtracts the union dues amount from your pay and sends it to the union.
The collective agreement sets out the way in which employment disputes are to be resolved. However, the resolution of human rights complaints and complaints related to safety work may be dealt with in other ways. This is why it may be beneficial to retain a lawyer to represent you, even if you feel that you are protected by your union.
My Union Isn’t Helping
For unionized employees, the union is, by way of their rights and responsibilities under the collective agreement and the applicable laws, the first line of defence. If you do have a workplace issue or are looking to make a grievance, the union is the group responsible for helping to address your concerns.
However, unions do not always represent their workers in the way the workers feel they should, because unions are not perfect. Unions have what is called in law a Duty of Fair Representation to their workers, and unfortunately, they do not always meet this duty.
If you believe your union is not representing you fairly, call Tailor Law for a free consultation with one of our Mississauga labour lawyers to see how we can help resolve your issue. Reach us online or at 905-366-0202.