Practice Areas

LabourEmploymentHuman RightsLitigationEducation & SchoolPost-SecondaryHealth SectorMunicipalitiesAboriginalPrivacyWorkers' CompensationBusiness ImmigrationPensions & BenefitsHarris/Humber TrainingTraining & Workshops

overview

As the largest management-side labour firm in Western Canada, Harris understands the employer-union relationship. Our approach is people-focused, based on building strong, genuine, long-term relationships with our clients, to help them maintain solid, lasting relationships with their workforces. We gain an understanding of our client’s businesses and culture, visiting them in the field to see their operations in practice. Then we draw on our knowledge of their industry and the law to offer practical solutions to their legal issues. We understand that clients need efficient and cost-effective advice, and we provide that through our range of in-house experience, combining leaders in the field and best-in-class new talent. Fundamentally, we view our work as a partnership with clients, in which we help them solve their day-to-day and complex human resource issues to avoid litigation and strengthen their businesses.

Services

  • Collective agreement interpretation
  • Collective bargaining and strategy
  • Labour dispute contingency planning
  • Absenteeism and performance issues
  • Drafting and implementing company policies and policy manuals
  • Human rights
  • Employment standards
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Privacy
  • Corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions
  • Representing clients at arbitration, labour relations board, human rights tribunals, employment standards tribunals and court both federally and provincially
  • Judicial reviews
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Overview

As the largest employment law firm in Western Canada, Harris understands all aspects of the non-union relationship. We base our advice on our knowledge of the client’s strategic, personal and business goals; the specific issues in the workplace; our understanding of the stakeholders; and the overall legal and business considerations in the industry. Our best-in-class employment lawyers understand that in the case of a dispute, the best resolutions meet the business’s overall goals and foster important long-term relationships.

Services

    • Post-employment competition disputes involving fiduciary and good-faith duties, and restrictive covenants
    • Executive compensation and employment issues
    • Negotiating contracts
    • Intellectual property
    • Employee confidentiality
    • Whistle-blower activities
    • Business immigration
    • Independent contractor negotiation, interpretation and monitoring
    • Outsourcing issues
    • Background and conduct investigation
    • Policy enforcement
    • Wrongful dismissal
    • Injunctions to prevent unlawful picketing activity, enforce restrictive covenants and confidentiality agreements and recover intellectual and physical property
    • Judicial review of administrative tribunal decisions, including those of arbitrators, federal and provincial labour relations boards, human rights tribunals, employment standards tribunals, workers' compensation board tribunals, freedom of information and privacy tribunals, and professional tribunals (colleges, societies, self-regulating bodies)
    • Appeals of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions, constitutional and Charter cases
    • Unjust dismissal and employment standards disputes
    • Disability plan administration, including disputes over overpayment of benefits, coverage and denial of claims

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                                    overview

                                    The law continues to evolve when it comes to the way people relate to each other in the workplace. Much of what was once purely personal and social, is now an employer’s legal responsibility. At Harris, we understand those changes from a legal and a human relations perspective. We work with employers to help them change their culture in a smooth and beneficial way, to address the new legal realities. Much of our work is about helping work cultures to evolve, so we build strong relationships with our clients, from which to learn about the current dynamics in their workplace. Based on that knowledge, we create advice tailored to the business, structure and culture to help each person in the organization adapt comfortably and effectively. When there is a problem, we have breadth and depth in providing strategy, investigating complaints and representing employers at tribunals.

                                    Services

                                    • Developing employer policies
                                    • Advising on all aspects of the Human Rights Code, including access to services and discrimination in employment
                                    • Investigations
                                    • Dispute mediation
                                    • Provincial and federal human rights statutes and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
                                    • Advocacy in grievances involving human rights issues
                                    • Seminars and training sessions to employees, supervisors and managers on human rights issues
                                    • Preparing written submissions to human rights tribunals
                                    • Acting as advocates before the Canada and BC human rights tribunals as well as appeal bodies
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                                    OVERVIEW



                                    We are about action, not reaction. We take a wide view, and consider all eventualities. We focus on workplace issues and relationships, and understand that most disputes are about the human dynamics that underpin them. We bring broad experience working with all sectors and industries, and bring specialized knowledge about employment, shareholder and partnerships issues. Once we fully understand all aspects of the problem, we commit to bringing swift resolution. We understand that litigation should be the last step, so we help each client first examine preventative and cost-effective alternatives like negotiation, mediation and arbitration. But when it is needed, we vigorously and skillfully pursue all avenues of litigation.

                                    Services

                                    • Wrongful dismissals
                                    • Shareholder disputes
                                    • Partnership disputes
                                    • Oppression and derivative claims
                                    • Commercial arbitrations
                                    • Intellectual property actions
                                    • Defamation actions
                                    • Contract and tort claims
                                    • Jurisdictional disputes
                                    • Post-employment competition disputes
                                    • Judicial reviews of tribunal decisions
                                    • Appeals of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions, constitutional and charter cases
                                    • Pension administration disputes
                                    • Disability plan administration disputes
                                    • Injunctions
                                    • Contempt applications
                                    • Anton Piller civil search warrants
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                                    overview

                                    We understand schools and the school community. We understand the goals they seek to achieve, and the challenges they face. We know that to assist our school clients to provide quality educational programs for children, we have to understand the unique character of each school community and the complexity of the issues they face. We regularly travel to communities throughout British Columbia and other provinces and territories, to provide advice to public, independent, and First Nations school officials and boards. As the recognized leader in school law in Western Canada, we understand the complexity of labour and employment law in the 21st century. We understand the importance of education. That’s why you’ll find our lawyers teaching school law in universities, publishing education law articles and books, and being leaders in national education organizations. That’s why each year Harris regularly hosts seminars and workshops for our school clients, to keep them up to date on new developments in education law. And that’s why Harris offers annual scholarships to students throughout the province to help them pursue their goals of a higher education. Most importantly, we understand the importance of our relationships with our clients. We have an established tradition of working within the education community to find creative solutions to complex problems.

                                    Services

                                    • Negotiating and interpreting collective agreements
                                    • Handling grievances and complaints under collective agreements and employment standards statutes
                                    • Labour relations advice
                                    • Collective bargaining
                                    • Developing bargaining strategies
                                    • Dispute resolution
                                    • Drafting collective agreement and bargaining proposals
                                    • Drafting contracts
                                    • Responding to strikes and picketing
                                    • Essential services
                                    • Certification
                                    • Arbitrations and appeals
                                    • Privacy and FOI
                                    • Educational issues
                                    • Litigation
                                    • Human rights issues and proceedings
                                    • Executive compensation and severance
                                    • Advising on and developing policies and bylaws
                                    • Interpreting and drafting legislation
                                    • Developing strategic plans
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                                    overview

                                    Harris is widely regarded as the leading labour and employment law firm in British Columbia’s post secondary sector. We’ve earned our reputation through decades of experience, long-term relationships with key stakeholders, and a deep familiarity with the sector and its many nuances. We understand the complex, fluid environments in which post secondary employers operate, including the collective bargaining structures, and the statutory, regulatory and policy requirements. Whether an issue involves students, employees, unions or the government, we apply our knowledge and experience to help our clients achieve results. And because we believe in providing preventative advice, we often put on seminars and customized training sessions for employers in the sector, on a wide variety of topical issues.

                                    Services

                                    • Labour relations
                                    • Human resources and employee relations
                                    • Student relations
                                    • Collective bargaining
                                    • Human rights
                                    • Harassment investigation and prevention
                                    • Accommodation of disabled employees and students
                                    • Information and privacy
                                    • Policies and bylaws
                                    • Employment contracts and service agreements
                                    • Statutory, regulatory and policy issues
                                    • Benefits and pensions
                                    • Employment standards
                                    • Customized training
                                    • Business immigration
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                                    OVERVIEW

                                    We understand the health care sector. Our deep knowledge of this sector is built on experience and solid relationships. We know the law, setting, structure, history and stakeholders, and we speak your language. We grasp the full implications of complex problems quickly, identify the options and help you choose the most practical solution. We can tell you what is happening now, and anticipate what’s coming next. We take a collaborative approach to our work with employers, who range from health authorities to non-profit societies and private health care providers, to deliver proven advice and cost-effective, practical results.

                                    Services

                                    • Representing health employers in grievance arbitration and human rights, employment standards, workers’ compensation proceedings and at court
                                    • Essential services
                                    • Reorganizing and restructuring
                                    • Executive compensation and benefits
                                    • Privacy and access to information requests
                                    • Human rights
                                    • Disability management and plans
                                    • Occupational health and safety
                                    • Collective agreement negotiation and interpretation
                                    • Workshops and training
                                    • Board governance

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                                    overview

                                    Harris understands that each entity, from the largest city government, to the smallest improvement district is different. We work by getting to know the structure of each workplace, including what each employee does and what you as the employer need. We then apply our deep knowledge of labour and employment law, and our broad understanding of municipal workplaces, to offer efficient advice that’s tailored to each location and situation. As the only firm that offers collective bargaining, and one of the main firms that offers advice and representation, we work with employers in every part of the province, from the East Kootenays to the northwest corner to Vancouver Island, to help them manage their workforces well.

                                    Services

                                    • Collective bargaining strategy and representation
                                    • Collective agreement drafting and interpretation
                                    • Labour dispute contingency planning
                                    • Employee performance and conduct
                                    • Systemic issues, including attendance, behavior and competence
                                    • Essential services, picketing and other strike-related issues
                                    • Drafting and implementation of employer policies
                                    • Executive compensation and employment issues, including negotiating and interpreting employment contracts between employers and senior executives
                                    • Intellectual property, breaches of employee confidentiality, and drafting and enforcing restrictive covenants
                                    • Whistle-blower activities, including employer rights and responses to whistle-blower incidents, and developing policies governing employee conduct and disclosure of confidential information
                                    • Investigation and policy enforcement regarding substance abuse, fraudulent activities, workplace violence, and misuse of municipal property and equipment
                                    • Wrongful dismissal, contract and tort claims, including matters involving reasonable notice, just cause and damages
                                    • Judicial review of tribunal decisions, including those of arbitrators, federal and provincial labour relations boards, human rights tribunals, employment standards tribunals, workers' compensation board tribunals, freedom of information and privacy tribunals, and professional tribunals (colleges, societies, self-regulating bodies)
                                    • Disability plan administration, including disputes over overpayment of benefits, coverage and denial of claims
                                    • Representation at arbitrations, labour relations board, employment standards tribunals, human rights tribunals and all levels of court
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                                    overview

                                    We understand that having strong, long-term relationships with our clients is the best way to help them build strong, long-term relationships with their workforces. Our lawyers have deep experience working with band councils, self-governing First Nations, Aboriginal schools, health care, housing departments, social services agencies and Aboriginal owned businesses in Western Canada, including the Territories, to help them improve their organizations and meet their goals. Based on our knowledge of our clients and their workforce, as well as our knowledge of the Aboriginal context, circumstances and issues, we provide human resources solutions, tailored to the specific organization. We take a practical and forward-looking approach to solving human resource issues through our advice and also through our customized seminars to Aboriginal employers across Western Canada, including the Territories.

                                    Services

                                    • Employee personnel manuals
                                    • Training and workshops
                                    • Contract drafting
                                    • Chief and council governance issues
                                    • Conflict of interest
                                    • Hiring and termination advice
                                    • Progressive discipline
                                    • Investigations
                                    • Unjust dismissals
                                    • Employee misconduct
                                    • Canada Labour Code complaints
                                    • Human rights complaints: BC and Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
                                    • Disability and addiction management
                                    • Employment insurance appeals
                                    • Federal and provincial regulations
                                    • Labour relations
                                    • Union certifications
                                    • Certification issues with Canadian Industrial Relations Board and BC Labour Relations Board
                                    • Policy manuals
                                    • Labour standards
                                    • Jurisdictional advice
                                    • Overtime issues
                                    • Employment or labour legislation drafting
                                    • Pension and benefits
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                                    overview

                                    Privacy is one of the most significant emerging issues facing employers. New statutes and heightened societal awareness mean employers have many questions about how privacy issues will play out. Harris understands workplace relationships, and is knowledgeable about the laws and issues, so we help employers figure out what’s actually important when it comes to privacy, understand the rules, navigate through them, and calmly and effectively address any issues that arise. Our approach is strategic, practical and cost-effective, based on demystifying jurisdictional and legislative issues, and practically solving problems to help employers keep everything operating efficiently.

                                    Services

                                    • Identify and evaluate compliance issues
                                    • Conduct privacy audits
                                    • Draft consent and notification forms
                                    • Develop and review privacy-related policies and procedures
                                    • Advise on privacy and access obligations
                                    • Train employees and management on privacy compliance
                                    • Develop or modify forms and contracts
                                    • Analyze security requirements
                                    • Identify potential liability issues
                                    • Represent employers on complaints made under privacy legislation
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                                    overview

                                    We understand the health and safety risks in the workplace. We understand how important it is for employers to manage workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety issues, because any failure can mean increased insurance assessments and even criminal sanctions. We work with employers, using our industry-leading, in-depth knowledge of and experience with federal and provincial statues and regulations, to help them fulfill their legal rights and obligations, prevent future problems and reduce costs. If a claim or incident does arise in the workplace, we help employers navigate the perplexing administrative processes, and represent them fully to protect their interests.

                                    Services

                                    • Employers’ obligation to register
                                    • Employer classification for assessment purposes, and experience rating
                                    • Strategies to reduce insurance assessments
                                    • Employer notification obligations regarding workplace injuries and occupational disease claims
                                    • Workers’ compensation claims adjudication and appeals
                                    • Workers’ compensation wage loss and permanent disability pension benefits
                                    • Applications for workers’ compensation claims cost relief
                                    • The imposition of financial penalties
                                    • General duties of employers, workers, supervisors, owners, officers and directors as well as prime contractors at multiple employer workplaces
                                    • Requirement for, and roles and responsibilities of, joint occupational health and safety committee
                                    • Application of general, specific and industry-based regulatory requirements
                                    • Development of workplace policies on workplace health and safety
                                    • Accident investigation and reporting
                                    • Appealing inspection orders issued by health and safety officers
                                    • Worker refusals to perform unsafe work
                                    • Discriminatory action/retaliation complaints by workers
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                                    overview

                                    A global economy relies on a global workforce. We understand that your human resource needs mean you sometimes need foreign workers, so we help bring them to Canada whether for the short-term, long-term or permanently. Because we know your needs evolve all the time, as do immigration policies, we use our knowledge of your business and our understanding of the policies to give you up-to-the-minute advice about your options. And because we know that time is usually of the essence, we use an IT portal, which enables clients to enter their own information, to streamline the process and eliminate the possibility for errors. We work with clients in every industry, from information technology, to mining, gaming, pharmaceuticals, accounting, aviation and engineering, to provide integrated legal and business solutions.

                                    Services

                                    • Temporary entry to Canada for business visitors
                                    • Work permits for foreign workers
                                    • Temporary resident visas
                                    • Permanent residency for foreign nationals
                                    • Work permit options for foreign workers
                                    • Intra-company employee transfers to Canada
                                    • Labour market opinions from Service Canada
                                    • Criminal and medical inadmissibility
                                    • Entrance issues at the port of entry and border crossings
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                                    OVERVIEW

                                    We understand the importance of pensions and benefits in the workplace. So we work with employers to help them maximize the value of their benefit dollars to attract, retain and reward employees. We understand how tricky it can be to administer programs, manage external service providers and deal with regulators, because we know that any failure can mean increased costs and even prosecutions, fines and penalties. We use our in-depth knowledge and experience with relevant statutes and regulations to help employers fulfill their obligations, prevent problems and reduce costs. If a problem does arise, we help employers navigate the perplexing administrative processes in order to ensure their interests are fully protected.

                                    Services

                                    • Pensions, benefits and welfare trusts
                                    • Executive and supplemental plans
                                    • Capital accumulation, group and profit sharing plans
                                    • Service provider contracts
                                    • Contribution holidays and surplus
                                    • Conversions, plan mergers and rationalization
                                    • Governance issues
                                    • Administrative, compliance and due diligence reviews
                                    • Funding strategies, cost and risk reduction
                                    • Statutory, regulatory and tax issues
                                    • Investments
                                    • Claims, adjudication and appeals
                                    • Litigation
                                    • Member data, communications and privacy
                                    • Collective bargaining
                                    • Boards of Trustees and Benefit Committees
                                    • Employer, administrator and director duties
                                    • Insolvency, CCAA and corporate restructurings
                                    • Corporate mergers and acquisitions
                                    • Windups and termination of plans
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                                    HARRIS CENTRE FOR PENSIONS & BENEFITS



                                    Harris and Humber College’s Centre for Employee Benefits have formed a strategic partnership to bring a wide variety of pension and benefit professional development courses to British Columbians.

                                    The Centre for Employee Benefits has been a leader in providing advanced pension and benefits training and skills development courses for over 40 years and now, in conjunction with Harris, will be making them extensively available in British Columbia. The initial courses, predominantly taught by local experts, offer training and skills development in four distinct areas: Pension Plan Administration; Pension and Health & Welfare Trustee Development; First Nation Pension Plan Governance; and Capital Accumulation Plans.

                                    Harris is delighted to be part of this exciting new program and proud to assist in making these courses available in British Columbia. We encourage you to explore the course listings below and to learn more about the programs of interest to you. Download an information sheet and follow the links to read the full course description or to register on-line with Humber.

                                    current courses





                                    This unique educational program is designed for First Nations pension plan administrators and Band Council members. It will enhance knowledge of defined contribution pension products, governance duties and fiduciary responsibilities. Through the use of case studies, hands-on exercises, workshops and in-session development of administration manuals, participants will be able to perform tasks resulting in pension plans that are effectively run and comply with legislation. The First Nations program is delivered over a week in five one-day seminars that progressively build the pension administration and governance expertise of participants.

                                                                               Register


                                    Pension Plan Administration Course (PPAC)


                                    Whether you are an HR professional, plan administrator or member of a pension committee, you require a sound working knowledge of registered pension plans. The aim is to equip today’s working pension professionals with in-depth background knowledge, exposure to advanced level pension and pension fund investment topics, and hands-on practical skills. In additions, PPAC provides you with “must have” knowledge about emerging trends in pension design, investment, regulation, legislation, actuarial science and pension accounting. The PPAC program is delivered in three, one-week seminars that progressively build your pension expertise.


                                    Introduction to Pensions (PPAC I)

                                    This course is designed to teach pension basics - terminology, design, funding, legislation, etc. Basic retirement and estate planning concepts are also studies to give participants a solid understanding of how pensions are integrated into the retirement planning process.

                                                                    Register


                                    Legislation and Pension Plans (PPAC II)

                                    This course focuses on provincial and federal legislation, required reporting and the resultant effects on plan design. It also deals with plan administration and related issues.

                                                                       Register


                                    Dollars & Cents of Pensions (PPAC III)

                                    This course examines key financial concepts, pension governance, actuarial valuations, pension fund liabilities, financial reporting issues and the various implications on cash flow.

                                                                                                     Register


                                    Pension/Health & Welfare Trustee Development Program (TDP)


                                    “Fiduciary Responsibilities” – what are they and how do they relate to your role as a Trustee or Committee Member? Developed along the same lines as the successful PPAC programs, TDP is offered in a series of one-day seminars. It is targeted at pension and health & welfare trustees, administrators, managers, and committee members who require a thorough understanding of fiduciary responsibilities and the governance process. Flexibility is the key - you can take each of the modules or mix & match depending on your needs and interests.


                                    TDP Basic                                                                      Register

                                    TDP Advanced                                                                Register


                                    These courses assist you to become a more effective Pension Trustee or member of a Pension Committee. It will assist you in understanding the true significance of your responsibility.


                                    Administration of Capital Accumulation Plans (ACAP)


                                    The once dominant defined benefit pension plans are being rapidly replaced by savings products known as Capital Accumulation Plans. CAPs (as they are known) shift many of the risks associated with pension plans from employers to employees. Employees must now invest their own retirement accounts and require new skill sets and investment knowledge to do so effectively. Employer responsibilities have not disappeared, however, and plan sponsors must ensure that they choose the right service providers, select/monitor investment funds appropriately and educate employees. ACAP is a unique interactive learning experience designed to address the needs of CAP sponsors.


                                    ACAP 1                                                                           Register

                                    ACAP 2                                                                           Register


                                    ACAP is a new program offered in two, one-week modules, specifically designed for anyone from CAP administrators to CAP decision makers. Come and learn about a variety of contemporary CAP topics and new ideas. Gain insights into best industry practices from industry experts.

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                                    overview

                                    We understand that each workplace is different, and that employers benefit from gaining deeper knowledge, so they can solve problems independently and prevent future ones. Harris offers customized training to employers and their personnel that focuses on the unique features of their workplaces.

                                    Services

                                    Tailored to each situation, our customized training can address a wide variety of topics, such as accommodating disabilities, conducting effective investigations, preventing discrimination and harassment, designing powerful employment policies, preparing for and conducting collective bargaining, promoting good employee relations, dealing with absenteeism, managing in a union environment, obtaining and dealing with employee medical information, etc. The list is literally endless, as the training is designed to fit your organization’s individual needs. Our training sessions are typically presented in a workshop format, with time for in-depth discussion involving all participants. The sessions can take place in a conference space at our office, or we are happy to come to your workplace. We can also arrange a webinar or video conference for employers who are out of town or have personnel at multiple locations.
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