The Common Employer Doctrine and Labour Law

The Common Employer Doctrine and Labour Law

While it may be clear in many instances who constitutes an employer under the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA), the operation of multiple different corporate entities associated with a particular workplace can complicate things. The OLRA does not specifically define what an employer is, allowing the Ontario Labour Relations Board to determine the issue if it arises using both statutory and common law tests. One of such tests is to determine whether associated corporate entities constitute a “common employer” for the purposes of labour relations under the OLRA (also known as the “Common Employer Doctrine”)

What is the Common Employer Doctrine? 

In the labour relations context, if associated or related businesses are carried on through more than one individual, corporation or other organizations, under common control or direction, the Ontario Labour Relations Board may declare those related entities as a single employer for the purposes of the OLRA.  Those organizations do not need to exist at the same time to be considered related employers.  

What are the Impacts of the Common Employer Doctrine? 

Should a group of associated entities be declared “related employers”  – common employer doctrine – for the purposes of the OLRA, those associated entities would be subject to all the provisions of the OLRA. This means the relevant organizations would be involved with collective bargaining, subject to the collective agreement and must follow the rules of industrial conflict. The related employers would also be liable for any offences in breach of the OLRA

Employers should promptly consult a labour lawyer if they find themselves facing unionization or labour related actions in their workplace. Whether associated entities are declared as related employers for the purposes of the OLRA could have significant impacts on the operation of a business. 

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If you are an employer and require assistance against legal action commenced by a union or want to know more about your rights in relations to unionized workplaces, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at + 1-800-771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected].