• >
  • ...
  • >
  • HR Heartbeat: Tax breaks for remote workers, layoff lessons and...

HR Heartbeat: Tax breaks for remote workers, layoff lessons and...

Dive into this week’s HR Heartbeat to discover what expenses remote workers can deduct this tax season. Plus see how this pilot won against former employers on a wrongful dismissal claim

First published on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024

Last updated on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024

5 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business, plus get up-to-the-minute commentaries on all things HR and legal.

CRA’s tax breaks for remote workers

Tax season is in full swing, so all employers with staff who work from home must *familiarize themselves with the CRA's new policy for remote workers. *

Under this new policy, your employees can deduct eligible home office expenses under the following conditions:

  • If they’re required, either in writing or verbally, to work remotely from home
  • If they work from home for over 50% of the time for a minimum of four consecutive weeks
  • If they incur expenses directly related to their work and have not been reimbursed

Note: This also applies to part-time workers who meet the above criteria.

The CRA published an updated version of Form T2200 to be used for the 2023 taxation year. So, if you've established remote work arrangements with your employees, whether in written or verbal form, you should give them the new T2200 for this tax year in addition to their other tax documentation.

If you're concerned about any disputes, don't worry. You're only obligated to estimate the percentage of time the employee worked from home. The responsibility is with your employees to prove they meet all the other work-from-home requirements in line with the CRA's guidelines.

Reduce your stress this tax season. Simplify approving staff expenses with help from our handy expense tracking app, PoP—so you always have accurate records to report to the CRA.

Sprucing up Newfoundland and Labradors safety standards

New changes have been introduced in Newfoundland and Labrador(NFL) to promote better health and safety practices in the workplace.

Bill 41, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act, came into effect on March 1, 2024.

The Act introduces changes to Occupational Health and Safety Committees and applies administrative adjustments.

  1. Any employer with 20 or more workers at a worksite must establish an Occupational Health and Safety Committee and program.
  2. Employers with less than 20 workers at a worksite *must have an OHS Policy and a Worker Representative. *
  3. Employers must appoint a Workplace Health and Safety Designate in businesses with less than six workers at a worksite.

The government believes these changes will make it easier for small businesses to comply with OHS regulations without interfering with worker safety. They'll also better align NFL's safety standards closer to those of other provinces and the federal sector.

The new Act also makes a few other changes, including** gender-neutral language**, replacing 'Trial Division with "Supreme Court," updating statutory references, and clearly defining what "departments" means.

If you need help making sure your assigned health & safety committees and representatives are properly trained in line with industry legislations, explore our learning management system BrightLearn. It's packed with intensive e-learning courses to upskill your staff and improve employee safety awareness.

Are we clear for layoff?

A recent ruling involving a layoff from the Alberta Court of King's bench served two key lessons for federally regulated employers.

  1. Having well-drafted employment contracts that entitle employers to temporarily lay off an employee following minimum employment standards is a must.
  2. And in this case, the court revealed employers don't have an automatic right to lay off employees, as some would believe.

Here's how it all went down. The employee, a pilot, was laid off via phone and immediately denied access to the company's online software equipment. Soon after, the employer sent a recall letter, but the employee considered themself terminated, refused to return, and filed a constructive dismissal claim.

The employee was hired as a pilot under an employment contract that did not explicitly provide a lay off clause or with the obligations and responsibilities related to layoffs. Instead, the employer’s right to layoff and the circumstances for layoff were outlined in an Employee Handbook.

The trial judge ruled in favour of the employee, stating that the Employee Handbook was not part of the agreement, and therefore, the employer lacked the right to lay off employees without cause. The employer appealed, but their appeal was dismissed.

According to the Alberta Court, the Canada Labour Code (CLC) covers all federally regulated employees. Even though the Code provides for the rights and obligations for employers and employees related to layoffs, they aren’t automatic. You must have the rights to lay off and both parties obligations in such situations written out in an employment agreement. Similarly, the Code doesn’t prevent employees from seeking common law remedies, and in this case the trial judge’s ruling was upheld.

Drafting a comprehensive employment contract with watertight clauses can be tricky, especially without the right employment relations expertise. That's where our library of expertly drafted templates, contracts and policies helps.

BrightBase has been created by** highly trained Canadian professionals** with over 30 years of experience in the industry so you can rest assured you’re following the right rules.

That's it for today! Come back next week for more HR news so you stay ahead of major employment law changes.

Share this article