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HR Planning

Organizations need to develop strategic HR goals that are aligned with the overall organizational vision, mission, values and

People are the main resource that nonprofits have for delivering services. Planning how your organization will meet its
current and future HR needs and how people will be supported and nurtured within your organization is critical for success.
HR planning is a complex, growing area of HR. In this section of the HR Toolkit, you'll find information on:

Strategic HR Planning
Operational HR Planning
Succession Planning
Risk Management in HR
The Board's Role in HR
Compensation & Benefits

Strategic HR Planning
Strategic HR planning is an important component of strategic HR management. It links HR management directly to the
strategic plan of your organization. Most mid- to large sized organizations have a strategic plan that guides them in
successfully meeting their missions. Organizations routinely complete financial plans to ensure they achieve organizational
goals and while workforce plans are not as common, they are just as important.

Even a small organization with as few as 10 staff can develop a strategic plan to guide decisions about the future. Based on
the strategic plan, your organization can develop a strategic HR plan that will allow you to make HR management decisions
now to support the future direction of the organization. Strategic HR planning is also important from a budgetary point of
view so that you can factor the costs of recruitment, training, etc. into your organization's operating budget.

Strategic HR management is defined as:

Integrating human resource management strategies and systems to

achieve the overall mission, strategies, and success of the firm while
meeting the needs of employees and other stakeholders.
Source: Herman Schwind, Hari Das and Terry Wagar, Human Resource Management: A Strategic Approach.

In this Section:
Introduction to strategic HR planning
The strategic HR management planning
Documenting the strategic HR plan
Implementing the strategic HR plan
Introduction to strategic HR planning
The overall purpose of strategic HR planning is to:

Ensure adequate human resources to meet the strategic goals and operational plans of your organization - the right people
with the right skills at the right time
Keep up with social, economic, legislative and technological trends that impact on human resources in your area and in
the sector
Remain flexible so that your organization can manage change if the future is different than anticipated
Strategic HR planning predicts the future HR management needs of the organization after analyzing the organization's
current human resources, the external labour market and the future HR environment that the organization will be operating
in. The analysis of HR management issues external to the organization and developing scenarios about the future are what
distinguishes strategic planning from operational planning. The basic questions to be answered for strategic planning are:

Where are we going?

How will we develop HR strategies to successfully get there, given the circumstances?
What skill sets do we need?

The strategic HR planning process

The strategic HR planning process has four steps:

Assessing the current HR capacity

Forecasting HR requirements
Gap analysis
Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies

Assessing current HR capacity

Based on the organization's strategic plan, the first step in the strategic HR planning process is to assess the current HR
capacity of the organization. The knowledge, skills and abilities of your current staff need to be identified. This can be done
by developing a skills inventory for each employee.

The skills inventory should go beyond the skills needed for the particular position. List all skills each employee has
demonstrated. For example, recreational or volunteer activities may involve special skills that could be relevant to the
organization. Education levels and certificates or additional training should also be included.

An employee's performance assessment form can be reviewed to determine if the person is ready and willing to take on more
responsibility and to look at the employee's current development plans.

Forecasting HR requirements
The next step is to forecast HR needs for the future based on the strategic goals of the organization. Realistic forecasting of
human resources involves estimating both demand and supply. Questions to be answered include:

How many staff will be required to achieve the strategic goals of the organization?
What jobs will need to be filled?
What skill sets will people need?
When forecasting demands for HR, you must also assess the challenges that you will have in meeting your staffing need
based on the external environment. To determine external impacts, you may want to consider some of the following factors:

How does the current economy affect our work and our ability to attract new employees?
How do current technological or cultural shifts impact the way we work and the skilled labour we require?
What changes are occurring in the Canadian labour market?
How is our community changing or expected to change in the near future?
To read more about the changing labour force and why it matters to non-profit employers, go to the Diversity at Work
section of the HR Toolkit:

Why diversity at work matters

Gap analysis
The next step is to determine the gap between where your organization wants to be in the future and where you are now. The
gap analysis includes identifying the number of staff and the skills and abilities required in the future in comparison to the
current situation. You should also look at all your organization's HR management practices to identify practices that could be
improved or new practices needed to support the organization's capacity to move forward. Questions to be answered include:

What new jobs will we need?

What new skills will be required?
Do our present employees have the required skills?
Are employees currently in positions that use their strengths?
Do we have enough managers/supervisors?
Are current HR management practices adequate for future needs?

Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies

There are five HR strategies for meeting your organization's needs in the future:

Restructuring strategies
Training and development strategies
Recruitment strategies
Outsourcing strategies
Collaboration strategies

1. Restructuring strategies

This strategy includes:

Reducing staff either by termination or attrition

Regrouping tasks to create well designed jobs
Reorganizing work units to be more efficient
If your assessment indicates that there is an oversupply of skills, there are a variety of options open to assist in the
adjustment. Termination of workers gives immediate results. Generally, there will be costs associated with this approach
depending on your employment agreements. Notice periods are guaranteed in all provinces. Be sure to review
the employment and labour standards in your province or territory to ensure that you are compliant with the legislation.
Termination packages are governed by case law as well as by employment standards legislation (which only states the bare
minimum to be paid). Consult with a lawyer to determine the best approach to termination packages.

Attrition - not replacing employees when they leave - is another way to reduce staff. The viability of this option depends on
how urgently you need to reduce staff. It will mean that jobs performed in the organization will have to be reorganized so
that essential work of the departing employee is covered. Careful assessment of the reorganized workloads of remaining
employees should include an analysis of whether or not their new workloads will result in improved outcomes.

It is important to consider current labour market trends (e.g. the looming skills shortage as baby boomers begin to retire)
because there may be longer-term consequences if you let staff go.

Sometimes existing workers may be willing to voluntarily reduce their hours, especially if the situation is temporary. Job
sharing may be another option. The key to success is to ensure that employees are satisfied with the arrangement, that they
confirm agreement to the new arrangement in writing, and that it meets the needs of the employer. Excellent
communication is a prerequisite for success.

Caution must be taken when considering the voluntary reduction of hours by existing staff. A change in working conditions
(e.g. hours worked per week) can be considered "constructive dismissal" - especially in the case of permanent staff. Ensure
that you obtain legal advice and there is full written documentation.

Your analysis may tell you that your organization may have more resources in some areas of the organization than others.
This calls for a redeployment of workers to the area of shortage. The training needs of the transferred workers needs to be
taken into account.

2. Training and development strategies

This strategy includes:

Providing staff with training to take on new roles

Providing current staff with development opportunities to prepare them for future jobs in your organization
Training and development needs can be met in a variety of ways. One approach is for the employer to pay for employees to
upgrade their skills. This may involve sending the employee to take courses or certificates or it may be accomplished through
on-the-job training. Many training and development needs can be met through cost effective techniques. See the HR Toolkit
section on Learning, Training and Development for more information.
3. Recruitment strategies
This strategy includes:

Recruiting new staff with the skill and abilities that your organization will need in the future
Considering all the available options for strategically promoting job openings and encouraging suitable candidates to
For strategic HR planning, each time you recruit you should be looking at the requirements from a strategic perspective.
Perhaps your organization has a need for a new fundraiser right now to plan special events as part of your fundraising plan.
However, if your organization is considering moving from fundraising through special events to planned giving, your
recruitment strategy should be to find someone who can do both to align with the change that you plan for the future.

4. Outsourcing strategies
This strategy includes:

Using external individuals or organizations to complete some tasks

Many organizations look outside their own staff pool and contract for certain skills. This is particularly helpful for
accomplishing specific, specialized tasks that don't require ongoing full-time work.

Some organizations outsource HR activities, project work or bookkeeping. For example, payroll may be done by an external
organization rather than a staff person, a short term project may be done using a consultant, or specific expertise such as
legal advice may be purchase from an outside source.

When deciding to outsource to an individual, ensure you are not mistakenly calling an employee a consultant. This is illegal
and can have serious financial implications for your organization. To understand the differences between employees and
self-employed people, visit the Canada Revenue Agency's website.
Each outsourcing decision has implications for meeting the organization's goals and should therefore be carefully assessed.

5. Collaboration strategies
Finally, the strategic HR planning process may lead to indirect strategies that go beyond your organization. By collaborating
with other organizations you may have better success at dealing with a shortage of certain skills.

Types of collaboration could include:

Working together to influence the types of courses offered by educational institutions

Working with other organizations to prepare future leaders by sharing in the development of promising individuals
Sharing the costs of training for groups of employees
Allowing employees to visit other organizations to gain skills and insight

ABC Social Services provides support services to families in need. It has reviewed and updated its strategic plan. As part of
the strategic planning process the Board Planning Committee learned that 15% of their social workers are planning to retire
over the next two years and recruitment of social workers has become increasingly competitive.

Outcome of the strategic planning process: One strategy developed by the Board Planning Committee is to make ABC Social
Services a preferred employer among organizations in the area.

Possible HR planning strategies to meet this organizational strategy are:

Develop a recruitment and retention strategy based on discussions with the social workers. Items to consider are: flexible
work arrangements; contracting with a counselor for the social workers on an as-needed basis (give them someone to talk
to about the stresses of the job); provide professional development opportunities that give them increased skills for
dealing with the issues their clients face.
Tie the pay scale of the social workers to the pay scales of social workers working for the municipality (the appropriate
percentage to be determined. For example, the pay of social workers in the organization may be tied at 90% of the pay at
the municipal level).
Provide placements for social work students and show them that ABC Social Service would be an excellent employer after
Decide the unique strategies that you will use to position yourself as an employer of choice, based on needs of your
employees and potential candidates.

Documenting the strategic HR plan

Once the strategies for HR in your organization have been developed they should be documented in an HR plan. This is a
brief document that states the key assumptions and the resulting strategies along with who has responsibility for the
strategies and the timelines for implementation.

Implementing the strategic HR plan

Once the HR strategic plan is complete the next step is to implement it:

Agreement with the plan

Ensure that the board chair, executive director and senior managers agree with the strategic HR plan. It may seem like a
redundant step if everyone has been involved all the way along, but it's always good to get final confirmation.

The strategic HR plan needs to be communicated throughout the organization. Your communication should include:

How the plan ties to the organization's overall strategic plan

What changes in HR management policies, practices and activities will be made to support the strategic plan
How any changes in HR management will impact on staff including a timeframe if appropriate
How each individual member of staff can contribute to the plan
How staff will be supported through any changes
How the organization will be different in the future
It is impossible to communicate too much (but all too easy to communicate too little), especially when changes involve
people. However, the amount of detail should vary depending upon the audience.

Legislation and mandate

Ensure that the actions you are considering are compliant with existing laws, regulations and the constitution and bylaws of
your organization.

To review laws relating to employment, visit the HR Toolkit section on Employment Legislation and Standards
Organizational needs
Whether you are increasing or reducing the number of employees, there are implications for space and equipment, and on
existing resources such as payroll and benefit plans.
HR plans need to be updated on a regular basis. You will need to establish the information necessary to evaluate the success
of the new plan. Benchmarks need to be selected and measured over time to determine if the plan is successful in achieving
the desired objectives.

Operational HR Planning
All organizations engage in HR planning at an operational level - even those that do not have a strategic plan. At the
operational level, good HR planning is in part based on thinking ahead about the organization.

At an operational level, organizations put HR management practices in place to support management and staff in achieving
their day-to-day goals. Whether it's determining how many staff are needed to deliver services over the next year or how
performance will be monitored, HR management practices and activities need to be planned to answer the question: "Where
is our organization going and how will it get there?"

The HR Toolkit has detailed information that you can use to develop an operational plan for your human resources practices
and activities. Topics include:

Employment Legislation and Standards

Guideline to Developing HR Policy
Getting the Right People
Learning, Training and Development
Compensation and Benefits
Keeping the Right People
If your organization already has good HR management practices in place they should be reviewed on an ongoing basis, every
two to three years, to ensure that they still meet organizational needs and comply with legislation.

At an operational level, organizations also need to be aware of the interdependencies between operational decisions and HR
management practices. Decisions made on one aspect of human resources often have an impact on another aspect of HR

Operational objective: Expand the services offered over the next two years
Human resources requirement: Five new staff members
Operational decision: Hire recent graduates or others with little direct work experience to reduce hiring costs
Implications for HR management practices: The operational decision to hire new graduates will impact on practices
such as:
Supervision - there will be a need for more supervision
On-the-job training - there will be a need for increased training

Operational objective: Reduce staffing costs

Human resources requirement: Reduce staff by two fulltime equivalents
Operational decision: The reduction in staff will be made by not renewing the contract for two term employees
Implications for HR management practices: The operational decision to not renew two contract positions will impact
on issues and practice such as:
Staff morale - the work of contract employees will have to be assessed to determine which positions to terminate so that
the impact on the clients and organization is minimized; support may be needed for the employees who remain
Job design - other positions will need to be reviewed to determine which staff, if any, have the knowledge and skills to take
over the essential work of the positions that are being eliminated; changes to the duties for existing staff will need to be
Training - training will need to be provided to staff taking on new duties, if appropriate
Termination process and cost the termination process will need to be planned to ensure that it complies with policies
and legislation and there will likely be a cost for notice and severance pay

In the absence of a strategic plan your organization can still take a proactive approach to HR management. By developing
good HR management practices and thinking ahead, you can create a good work environment where staff can be productive
and focus on providing the best possible service.

Succession Planning
What would you do in your organization if a key employee resigned, fell ill or had to be fired tomorrow? Would you be

In this Section:
What is succession planning?
Why is succession planning important?
Who is responsible for succession planning?
What are some challenges to effective succession
Succession planning in small and mid-sized
Succession planning in larger organizations
Tips for successful succession planning

Succession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic way. Because many nonprofits are
small (with fewer than 10 employees) and because they may be facing other organizational challenges, thinking about who
the next executive director might be or what would happen if the director of finance suddenly left is not high on their priority

There are many reasons why organizations need to be thinking about succession planning. The most important reason, of
course, is that we rely on staff to carry out our missions, provide services and meet our organization's goals. We need to think
about what would happen to those services or our ability to fulfill our mission if a key staff member left.
Another reason to focus on succession planning is the changing realities of workplaces. The impending retirement of the
baby boomers is expected to have a major impact on workforce capacity. Teresa Howe in "Succession Planning and
Management" identified other emerging realities about the workforce in Canada:

Vacancies in senior or key positions are occurring in numerous organizations simultaneously and demographics indicate
there are statistically fewer people available to fill them
Baby boomer retirements are on the rise just at the time when the economy is growing and increasing the demand for
senior management expertise
There is no emerging group of potential employees on the horizon as in past generations (i.e. baby boomers, women
entering the workforce, large waves of immigration)
Many organizations eliminated middle manager positions during restructuring in the 1980s and 90s and no longer have
this group as a source to fill senior level vacancies
Younger managers interested in moving up do not have the skills and experience required because they have not been
adequately mentored. This is because middle managers, who would normally perform this type of coaching role, were
With careful planning and preparation, organizations can manage the changes that result from a generational transfer of
leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organization.

Although the type and extent of planning will be different, organizations both large and small need to have some sort of
succession plan. Effective succession planning supports organizational stability and sustainability by ensuring there is an
established process to meet staffing requirements. Boards and executive directors can demonstrate leadership by having the
strategies and processes in place to ensure that these transitions occur smoothly, with little disruption to the organization.

What is succession planning?

While the term executive director is used throughout this discussion it is understood it is only one of many terms (such as
president & CEO, senior manager and general manager) used by organizations in the sector to refer to their most senior staff
person. The same is true of terms used for other positions so that an accountant in one organization may be a financial
officer or CFO in another. The important consideration is not the title but the work-related responsibilities and their value
within the organization.

A succession plan, simply put, is a component of good HR planning and management. Succession planning acknowledges
that staff will not be with an organization indefinitely and it provides a plan and process for addressing the changes that will
occur when they leave. Most succession planning focuses on the most senior manager - the executive director, however, all
key positions should be included in the plan. Key positions can be defined as those positions that are crucial for the
operations of your organization and, because of skill, seniority and/or experience, will be hard to replace.

Whenever size and resources permit, a succession plan should involve nurturing and developing employees from within an
organization. Employees who are perceived to have the skills, knowledge, qualities, experience and the desire can be
groomed to move up to fill specific, key positions. Organizations should:
Assess their current and future needs based on either their strategic plan, goals and objectives, or priority programs and
Match these to the capabilities of the existing workforce
Develop a plan to manage the gaps that will arise when individuals in key positions leave or are promoted
The plan will generally include a combination of training and developing existing staff, and external recruitment.

To avoid a potential constructive dismissal or other claim, include a statement to specify that a succession plan is not a
guarantee of a position; rather it represents a developmental plan to prepare an individual should opportunities arise within
the organization.

Why is succession planning important?

The benefits of good succession planning include:

A means of ensuring the organization is prepared with a plan to support service continuity when the executive director,
senior managers or key people leave
A continuing supply of qualified, motivated people (or a process to identify them), who are prepared to take over when
current senior staff and other key employees leave the organization
An alignment between your organization's vision and your human resources that demonstrates an understanding of the
need to have appropriate staffing to achieve strategic plans
A commitment to developing career paths for employees which will facilitate your organization's ability to recruit and
retain top-performing employees and volunteers
An external reputation as an employer that invests in its people and provides opportunities and support for advancement
A message to your employees that they are valuable
The absence of a succession plan can undermine an organization's effectiveness and its sustainability. Without a succession
planning process, an organization may not have a means of ensuring that the programs and services that are crucial to its
operation are sustained beyond the tenure of the individual currently responsible for them.

A mid-sized arts organization lost an employee who had been hosting, organizing and managing a major fundraising event
for a number of years. When he left, staff knew very little about how it was put together and there was no operations manual
documenting the event. This very important event ended up being abandoned by the organization because they simply did
not know how to run it.

A succession plan ensures that there are qualified and motivated employees (or a means of recruiting them) who are able to
take over when the executive director or other key people leave an organization. It also demonstrates to stakeholders such as
clients, funders, employees and volunteers that the organization is committed to and able to provide excellent programs and
services at all times, including during times of transition.

A mid-sized organization relied heavily on the corporate memory, skills and experience of a longtime employee. In her final
position, she was responsible for office administration including payroll, budget monitoring and the organization's major
annual fundraising event. Over the course of her employment she held a variety of positions and had a very good
understanding of the organization's operations and history.

Her unexpected death was both an emotional blow and a wake up call to her colleagues. Everything she had known about the
organization was "in her head." While discussions had occurred regularly concerning the need to document this information
and to pass this knowledge on to others - this had never happened. The organization was able to regroup and survive the
transition but the employees experienced high levels of stress as they struggled to determine what needed to happen when. A
great deal of time and effort was spent recreating systems and processes and even then, some things fell through the cracks
resulting in the need to rebuild relationships with supporters.

Who is responsible for succession planning?

Both the board and the executive director have pivotal roles to play in succession planning.

The board is responsible for succession planning for the executive director position. The board hires the executive director to
ensure it has a skilled manager at the helm to implement the organization's mission and vision. It is therefore very important
for boards to spend some time reflecting on what they would do if, or when, the executive director leaves. All too often,
boards find that they are unprepared for such an occurrence and are left scrambling to quickly replace that person. There are
many examples of an executive director leaving only to have the organization fall into disarray: funders withdraw resources,
and other key staff members leave due to lack of effective leadership. Even when provided with adequate notice, boards
sometimes find themselves in the position of having to scramble to find an interim solution.

The executive director is responsible for ensuring a succession plan is in place for other key positions in the organization.
These will likely be developed with help from the management team with input from implicated employees.

To ensure the process is fair and the succession plan considers different perspectives, ask for input from all key stakeholders.

What are some challenges to effective succession planning?

Some challenges to succession planning are:

Size of the organization: some nonprofits have so few positions that they may not have the ability to offer opportunities for
advancement; employees with the potential and the desire to advance their careers may move to larger organizations as a
Lack of financial resources: employees may leave for better salaries and benefits offered in other workplaces
The nature of funding: as more and more organizations depend on project funding as opposed to core funding, there are
fewer core staff members available to take up positions in the organizations
Project staff come and go and may not be seen to be part of the talent pool available to organizations
In some cases, senior leaders are staying on in their positions, despite the fact that the skills needed for the job may have
changed or they are no longer making a meaningful and productive contribution to the organization
Indiscriminate inclusion of employees in the succession plan including those who are disinterested, unmotivated or lack
capacity to advance
Inadequate training and development resulting in an employee who is not prepared for a promotion
A plan that does not promote people in a timely fashion, leading potential successors to leave the organization to seek new
Poor communication resulting in confusion and turmoil within the organization as staff speculate about what the
succession plan really is
Potential candidates for promotion cannot be guaranteed that they will be promoted; a lot depends on timing and need of
the organization

Succession planning in small and mid-sized organizations

In many smaller organizations, succession planning may be viewed as a luxury, but it isn't. At the very least, boards of
directors have a responsibility to consider and plan for the departure of the executive director, who is often critical to the
existence and sustainability of the organization.

When faced with the loss or impending loss of an executive director, these kinds of questions quickly surface:

Should we hire from within or look for an external candidate?

Do we have anyone internally who is qualified?
Whether we hire internally or externally; does anyone really know the specifics of what that person was doing?
What kind of impact will this change have on our capacity to deliver on our mandate and on our relationships with our
clients, donors and volunteers?
What do we tell our stakeholders?

Developing a succession plan for the executive director

In some instances, the board may decide that there needs to be a "second in command" who has the capacity to replace the
executive director in the future. This means:

Identifying that person in collaboration with the executive director

Ensuring that the person is motivated to take on the top job
Developing a plan to ensure that the eventual successor gains the requisite skills and knowledge to take the job on
Ensuring that the second in command is exposed to a broad range of experiences so that he or she has a wider
understanding of the operations of the organization
The plan could include a formalized process of mentoring or coaching and training in more specific aspects of the job. When
the size of the organization permits, it would be preferable to have more than one person identified as a potential successor
to the executive director.

In a small nonprofit, it may not be possible to groom a successor from within the ranks of existing staff. To ensure continuity
and stability when an executive director leaves, employees may be paired to cross-train each other to ensure there are two
people on staff who know each job.

The board chair should have a conversation with the executive director on an annual basis regarding his or her career
aspirations. While the executive director is not required to share any career goals, the conversation can allow for a frank
discussion about future plans.
Steps to put in place
First and foremost, the board is responsible for drawing up a plan of action and effectively communicating it to the rest of
the staff as soon as possible. This is necessary to demonstrate that the board is taking decisive action, to deal with any
misinformation that may be generated by a quick departure and to ensure that all of the employees' questions are answered.

The board must also communicate its plan of action for replacing the executive director in a timely manner with its funders.
Funders will need to be assured that plans and programs are on target and deliverables will not change.

With no succession plan or second in command identified, the board may want to name an interim executive director until a
replacement is selected. This choice should be made wisely because someone with the right skills and knowledge needs to be
chosen. If a person is asked to take on the executive director responsibilities in addition to his or her job, there should be an
adjustment in that employee's compensation to reflect the additional responsibilities and work load.

Another option is to ask a qualified group of two or three employees to co-manage the organization by sharing the executive
director responsibilities. In order for this approach to be effective, it requires a clear understanding of the various aspects of
the executive director 's position so that tasks may be given to those with ability to take them on. It also requires ongoing
communication and coordination between the employees that are part of the co-management team.

If there are no employees able or willing to take on the task on an interim basis, a board member may be asked to
temporarily assume these functions. Of course, the board member will have to resign from the board if he or she takes on a
paid position with the organization.

Ideas for recruiting for other key positions

The following ideas can be incorporated into your succession plan for key positions in the organization other than the
executive director.

Look to other organizations for exceptional employees

New employees are often found in other nonprofits. While some may view this as poaching, the reality is that employees who
aren't being challenged or aren't happy will leave the organization for a better opportunity. In some cases, employees have
been known to leave for a position in another organization but return years later with new experiences and skills. Helping to
keep exceptional employees in the sector by allowing them to move around to develop their careers should be seen not as a
loss for individual organizations, but as a gain for the capacity of the sector.

An innovative approach would be to develop a pool of candidates with other organizations and develop a rotational program
to allow key employees to move from one organization to the next. This approach would ensure key individuals remain
challenged and motivated while a group of nonprofits all benefit from the expertise.

Look to your organization's volunteers

There may be board members or volunteers in other positions within the organization with the talent, knowledge and
experience who can effectively make the transition to a paid position.

Look to project staff (either current or those who did project work for your organization in the past)
As a result of a shift from core funding to project-based funding, there are more and more project staff who move from
organization to organization with short contracts. These people will often have gained information about your organization's
operations and could move seamlessly into a core staff position.
Look to consultants (either those that have worked with your organization or other similar organizations)
While most consultants may prefer to stay in their line of business, there are those who would like to become staff members,
if asked. In some cases, consultants worked for a nonprofit before becoming a consultant and are interested in moving back
into the sector to work.

Knowledge transfer is a key component of the succession plan. Ensure that core organizational processes are well
documented. Whenever possible, ensure an overlap of time so the exiting employee can help orient and train the new

Succession planning in larger organizations

The steps outlined below provide a roadmap for larger organizations interested in developing succession plans. Different
organizations will implement these activities differently. While there is no right or wrong way to develop a succession plan,
the following provides important components that need to be considered.

Capacity and needs assessment

Step 1
Identify key positions for your organization. These include the executive director, senior management and other staff
members who would, for their specialized skills or level of experience, be hard to replace. Ask yourself which positions would
need to be filled almost immediately to ensure your organization continues to function effectively.

Step 2
Review and list your current and emerging needs. This will involve examining your strategic and operational plans to clearly
articulate priorities.

Step 3
Prepare a chart that identifies the key positions and individuals in the organization. The positions might include those listed
in step 1 and/or others that are pertinent to your organization, such as volunteers.

Step 4
Identify and list the gaps by asking questions such as:

Which individuals are slated to or likely to leave (through retirement, project completion, etc.) and when?
Which new positions will be required to support the strategic plan?
Which positions have become or will become obsolete (for example, those related to a program that has been terminated)?
What skills and knowledge will need to be developed (for example, to support a new program)?
Step 5
Evaluate/assess all staff members with the goal of identifying those who have the skills and knowledge or the
potential along with the desire to be promoted to existing and new positions.
The evaluation can be formal or informal and can include, but is not limited to, performance reviews, 360 degree
assessments and informal conversations with the individuals under consideration.
The executive director may be aware that an employee has aspirations to and the capacity to move up. This may be an
opportunity to recognize this goal and support it.
Take this opportunity to give younger workers a chance. Many young people enthusiastically enter the sector and then,
finding few opportunities for advancement, leave. Younger workers can remain engaged if you help to match their
interests to opportunities provided through effective succession planning.

Develop and implement the plan

Based on the evaluation and on the requirements of your strategic plan, identify the key person or people you will want to
develop and nurture for the future, the position you would like to groom them for, and the timeframe required to prepare
them. Consider different ways of developing your employees like: self-development, books/journals, mentor programs,
special project work.

Identify the career paths that the selected individuals should be following. Customize the path to fit the individual's abilities
and talents by developing an action plan. The plan must be dynamic - able to be changed as the individual's and the
organization's needs change. It must also consider the specific needs, learning styles and personalities of the individuals
involved in order to be effective.

Formalize education, training, coaching, mentoring and assessment activities. The mix of activities included within the
action plan should be linked to timelines and specific outcomes.

If possible, move people into different areas for experience and training before they are needed in critical positions. Have
individuals job-shadow for an agreed upon period of time to give the successor a real sense of the responsibilities and to
allow the organization the chance to determine whether the individual really is suited for the new position.

Monitor and manage the plan

As people leave and new people assume their responsibilities, the plan will have to be updated to identify the next person to
be groomed for promotion and the requirements of his or her individual action plan. For organizations that engage in an
annual (or regular) strategic planning process, the succession plan should be included in that discussion.

Be prepared to address issues such as concerns of staff who have not been selected for career advancement. Ensure
alternative paths are identified to allow all employees who are interested in career enhancement to be given some type of
professional development opportunity. Professional development can include such wide ranging activities as formal
education and training, workshops and seminars as well as less formal learning opportunities such as the chance to
represent the organization at a consultation.

Recognize that no matter how well you plan, something can still happen which the succession plan doesn't address. For
example, you may have dutifully trained a "second" only to have that person leave. Even though there may be no one able to
fill the breach immediately, the succession plan will ensure that there is a process for you to follow in filling the position.

Tips for successful succession planning

Secure senior management and board support for a succession planning process. This gives employees and staff an
understanding of how important succession planning is to the organization.
Review and update your succession plan regularly. This ensures you reassess your hiring needs and determine where the
employees identified in the succession plan are in their development.

Develop procedure manuals for essential tasks carried out by key positions. Include step-by-step guidelines.

Adequate time should be provided to prepare successors. The earlier they are identified, the easier it is on the individual to
be advanced and on other employees within your organization who will know whether certain options are available to them.

Understand that your succession plan will be a unique reflection of your organization. Succession plans are as different from
each other as the organizations for which they are developed.

Risk Management in HR
The only sure way to avoid risk in nonprofits would be to lock the doors and put up a closed sign in the window. Risks are
inevitable and organizations have a moral and legal obligation to attend to the safety and well-being of those they serve,
those who work for them and others who come into contact with their operations. This is known as "Duty of Care."

Organizations need to look at all the risks throughout their entire operation and incorporate risk management into all
planning and decision-making. However, the specific focus of this section is risk management as it applies to HR activities.

In this Section:
Applying risk management to HR
The risk management process
Who is involved in the risk management

Applying risk management to HR

When developing a risk management plan for your HR activities, there are a number of areas to focus on. This general list
will get you started but it is very important that all organizations identify and evaluate the risks unique to their own

HR Activity Potential Risk Potential considerations

Compensation and Financial abuse Who has signing authority?

benefits How many signatures are required?
Are there checks and balances?
Hiring Discriminatory practices Was a complete screening completed on potential applicants?
Hiring unsuitable or Were provincial human rights laws observed?
unsafe candidates Is there a set probationary period?
"Wrongful" hiring Were promises made to the candidate that cannot be honored?
Did the employee sign off on the policies and contract of
employment before being hired?
Occupational Health Environmental Do we provide safe working conditions and do we conduct safety
and Safety Personal injury or death checks regularly?
Do we provide adequate training for staff?
Do we ensure the use of appropriate clothing and safety equipment?
Do we have adequate policies, procedures, and committee in place?
Employee supervision Abuse Do we provide sufficient orientation and training?
Reputation in the Do we provide adequate supervision (especially for activities that
community occur off-site or after hours)?
Release of personal Do we have a performance management system in place?
information Are personal information protection guidelines followed?
Employee conduct Abuse Do we have clearly written position descriptions for all positions?
Reputation in the Do we follow up when the parameters of the job description are not
community respected?
Do we provide thorough orientation and training?
Do we provide an employee handbook?
Do we have comprehensive policies and procedures?
Do we provide ongoing training about our policies and procedures?
Do we retain written records of performance issues?
Do we ensure that organizational valuables are secure?
Do we have cash management procedures?
Do we have adequate harassment policies and procedures?
Exiting employee Property Do we retrieve organizational information and equipment that a
Reputation in the dismissed employee used (especially from home)?
community Do we ensure that all access codes, passwords, etc are de-activated?
Compensation Do we conduct an exit interview?
Do we record lieu time and vacation balances?

There is a connection between risk management and liability. Therefore, it is very important to obtain legal advice about
your risk management plan.

The risk management process

Risk management is a cycle. That means that it is not something that gets checked off a "to do" list but it is a continuous
activity. Having a risk management process means that your organization knows and understands the risks to which you are
exposed. It also means that your organization has deliberately evaluated the risks and has strategies in place to remove the
risk altogether, reduce the likelihood of the risk happening or minimize harm in the event that something happens.

At a very basic level, risk management focuses you on two fundamental questions:

1. What can go wrong?

2. What will we do to prevent the harm from occurring in the first place and in response to the harm or loss if it actually

Identify the risks

The very first step is to identify the risks. Ask yourself what can go wrong. Every activity of an organization poses a risk so
brainstorm and document the risks.
Consider both the general risks (that could happen to any organization) and the risks specific to your organization.
Risks can be:
Abuse that is either one-time or ongoing (physical, emotional, psychosocial, sexual, financial)
Personal injury

Involving staff, volunteers and board members in the risk identification process will give you a comprehensive picture of the
risks based on different people's involvement in different areas of the organization. You may also wish to engage the services
and opinions of an accountant or a lawyer.

Assess the risks

If you have done a thorough job of identifying risks, you may end up with a long (and overwhelming) list.
The next step is to assess each of the risks based on the (1) likelihood or frequency of the risk occurring and (2) the
severity of the consequences.
Using a risk map to plot the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of the consequences will help you prioritize your
next steps.

Develop strategies for managing risks

Consider the most appropriate risk management strategies for each identified risk:
Avoidance - Stop providing the service or doing the activity because it is too risky.
Acceptance - Some risky activities are central to the mission of an organization and an organization will choose to accept
the risks.
Modification - Change the activity to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring or reduce the severity of the
consequences. Policies and procedures are an important part of this risk management strategy because they communicate
expectations and define boundaries. Learn more about writing policies and procedures.
Transfer or sharing - Purchase insurance or transfer the risk to another organization through signing a contractual
agreement with other organizations to share the risk (for example, having a contractual agreement with a bus company to
transport clients rather than staff driving clients).

When you have decided which risk management strategies will be the most effective and affordable for your organization,
practically outline the steps and who is responsible for each step in the risk management plan.

Communicate the plan and ensure that there is buy-in from all who are involved in the organization (staff, volunteers,
clients, other relevant stakeholders).

Provide training for all organizational staff and volunteers so they understand the rationale of the risk management plan as
well as the expectations, procedures, forms, etc.
Consider the following questions and document any changes to the plan:

Is your plan working?

Have your risks changed?
Have you expanded or reduced your programs and services?
Are changes or updates required?
Are staff and volunteers following the risk management plan?
Do they need re-training on the details?
Do we need to better communicate the plan?

Risk management is an evolving field. Therefore, it is a good practice to keep current and re-evaluate your organization's risk
management system on an annual basis.

Who is involved in the risk management process?

Risk management is a large and important undertaking. There must be commitment from the board to commit the financial
and human resources. In larger organizations, a risk management committee, team or department may be formed to handle
the risk management process. In smaller and medium sized organization, the responsibility for developing and
implementing a risk management process will likely fall on the executive director. However, paid staff, volunteers - and
potentially clients and other stakeholders - will be very helpful partners in identifying risks and developing effective
strategies to deal with the risks. Once the risk management process is in place, everyone in the organization has a role to play
from identifying risks to following policies and procedures to completing forms and reports.

The Board's Role in HR

As the governing body of a nonprofit, a board of directors provides oversight to ensure that the organization meets its
mission and is operated effectively and in the best interests of the stakeholders: members, clients, funders, employees, and
the community at large.

The board has overall responsibility for strategic planning, finances, organizational operations, community relations and
human resources. This section of the HR Toolkit focuses on the board's responsibilities for HR.

In this Section:
Governance and board structure
Governance and HR management
Legal duties of directors
Role and responsibilities for HR management
Legislation related to employment and board responsibility for
Fulfilling your obligations as a board member
Governance and board structure
As the oversight body of a nonprofit organization, the board of directors is ultimately responsible for an organization's HR
management activities. However, the level of involvement in HR management practices will depend in part on how long the
organization has been in existence and the governance structure (model) used. In most established organizations, the board
is charged with hiring and managing the performance of an executive director to which the responsibilities for operational
HR management are typically delegated.

The Institute On Governance identifies three distinct roles in an organization:

Governance - The interface with stakeholders, the source of strategic decisions that shape the organization and its work,
and the ultimate accountability for the work and actions of the organization.
Management - The link between governance and work. The organization of tasks, people, relationships and technology to
get the job done.
Work - Performing the tasks required to fulfill the mission.

Newly established organizations often have a working or administrative board where board members are directly
involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization. These organizations often have no staff or they may hire a small
number of staff to do work however the board volunteers take on the management role and some of the work as well.
As organizations grow, the board will eventually hire a person (executive director, administrator or coordinator) to manage
the day-to-day operations of the organization. Even with a manager in place, the board of directors is usually still involved in
some aspects of management which is reflected in a mixed board structure.
Mature organization usually develop a governance structure where the board of directors provides oversight on human
resources management issues and only has direct involvement in the human resources management activities required to
hire, supervise, and evaluate the executive director. Usually, one of two models of governance is adopted by mature
organizations: Traditional Policy Board or a Policy Governance Board (Carver model).

Governance and HR management

Working/administrative board
Board members are involved in all aspects of HR management.

Advantages Disadvantages

Directors with expertise in HR management provide hands-on Consensus driven decision making can be time
management of human resources consuming and conflict ridden
Heavily dependent on board members to volunteer for
additional responsibilities
Limited ability to respond quickly to employment
Mixed board
Board is less involved in management but remains involved in the work of the organization.

Advantages Disadvantages

Board committees can be established to work on areas such Overlap in responsibility for HR management between
as HR management the board and staff
Potential for role ambiguity
Tendency for the board to micro-manage operations
May be hard for board members to give up management

Traditional policy board

Board establishes the organization's mission and goals; board provides oversight of the HR management practices to achieve
the mission and goals; executive director is accountable to the board for human resources management; The board through
its executive committee or President is responsible for HR for hiring, supervising, and evaluating the executive director.

Advantages Disadvantages

Committees made up of board members and senior staff Quick changes in HR management practices are difficult to
may be established to develop HR policies and practices make if approvals are required at the committee level
The roles and responsibilities of the board and executive
director for HR management are clear

Policy governance board (Carver)

Board develops policy to set the ends to be achieved by the organization, the means to achieve those ends and the limits on
the executive director for HR management; board as a whole directs the executive director; the board needs to establish a
thorough reporting structure so that it can fulfill its oversight function for HR management.

Advantages Disadvantages

Responsibility for HR is delegated to Issues with the executive director may be hard to deal with in a timely way
the executive director within the limits when the board as a whole has to be involved in the process
set by the board The board is not involved in the development of policies and practices for HR
Executive director develops and management, yet as the legal employer, the board and individual members can
implements all HR policies and be held legally accountable for breaches of law

Legal duties of directors

Each board member has a fiduciary duty to the organization. This means that the board is acting on behalf of the
membership or stakeholders in directing the affairs of the organization. The fiduciary duty of the board is the same for all
types of governance structures. This fiduciary duty covers all areas of responsibility, including HR.

In law, a duty is an obligation to act in a certain way and to a certain standard of care.
Duty Standard of Care

Duty of diligence Directors are required to:

Act reasonably, prudently and in good faith

Educate themselves about the organization
Make reasonable inquiries into the day-to-day management of the organization,
consider explanations and to make informed decisions
Diligent directors also seek the advice of qualified professional, when necessary

Duty of skill/competence Directors with a special skill or knowledge have a duty to use that expertise in their role
as a Board member, and to practice the standard of care expected of their professional
abilities. For example, HR professionals and lawyers will be held to the standard of their
professions on issues related to HR management and the law respectively.

Board members without specialized skill or knowledge are expected to act as a prudent
person would act. Prudent directors are cautious and careful. They try to foresee the
consequences of a course of action before taking it.

Duty of loyalty Directors have a duty to always place the interest of the organization first. This means
acting honestly, in good faith and in the best interest of the organization. Directors must
fully and promptly disclose any potential conflicts of interest and take action to avoid
perceived or real conflicts of interest.

Duty of obedience Directors have a duty to act within the scope of the governing documents of the
organization and to ensure that committees and staff do so as well. Governing
documents include the organization's constitution, bylaws, policies, rules and
regulations. This duty includes ensuring that governing documents are kept up-to-date.

Directors also have a duty to obey all laws and statutes that apply to the organization.

Role and responsibilities for HR management

In a mature organization, there are three participants in HR management: the board, executive director and line managers
who directly supervise the work of other staff.

The level of autonomy of a line manager for HR activities will depend in part on the size of the organization. Also, in larger
organizations which have a dedicated HR management position, some of the roles assigned to the ED and the line manager
will be the responsibility of the HR manager.
An organization with good governance practices clearly establishes the division of authority and accountability among
the board, executive director and line managers. The role of the board is governance and the role of the executive director is
management. Sometimes the roles can get blurred. In clarifying whose job it is, the board and the executive director must
always keep in mind the board's legal responsibilities and liabilities as the employer.

HR Responsibility Chart (PDF 155KB)

Outlines who is responsible for different HR tasks

Legislation related to employment and the responsibility of the

board for compliance
Each board member is liable for ensuring that legislation is complied with. The executive director is hired by the board to
manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. However, the board can not delegate its ultimate accountability for
compliance with legislation.

Most organizations are provincially regulated and therefore must comply with provincial legislation. Some organizations are
regulated federally and therefore must comply with federal legislation. All organizations must comply with federal legislation
in specific areas such as Income Tax, Employment Insurance, and the Canada Pension Plan.

Employment legislation changes regularly and it is incumbent upon the board to ensure that the organization has access to
the HR expertise to keep current with these changes (either in-house or external HR expertise).

Provincially regulated organizations receiving funding from the federal government to deliver a service may be subject to
Employment Equity Legislation under the Federal Contractors Program depending on the amount of money received and
the size of the organization.
In addition to the federal and provincial legislation, municipal regulations can also influence the workplace. For example,
bylaws on non-smoking in the workplace must be upheld.

Fulfilling your obligations as a board member

How can directors of the board demonstrate good governance?

Fulfill your director's duties of diligence, skill/competence, loyalty, and obedience

Know your legal responsibilities and liabilities
Educate yourself about HR management
Regularly attend board meetings
Read all documents in advance of the board meeting
Ask questions
Take care when voting
Register your dissent if you believe the board is acting improperly and ask to have your dissent recorded in the minutes
Review the minutes of each meeting
If you were not in attendance at a meeting where a decision was made that you disagree with, ask to have your dissent
recorded in the minutes at the next meeting
Establish sound organizational human resources management policies and practices
On a regular basis, ask the executive director to report on the organization's compliance with all legislation
Seek a legal opinion before important human resources management decisions are made
Purchase director's and officer's liability insurance

HR Policies & Employment Legislation

All employers, including those in the nonprofit sector, must understand and comply with legislation relating to employment.
The HR policies and practices that your organization adopt must take into account the laws and regulations around each

It is very important to support intentions with policies and procedures. Policies and procedures communicate the values of
your organization and provide everyone with a consistent process to follow.

In this section of the HR Toolkit you'll find information to help you develop HR policies and procedures as well as
understand your baseline employment obligations as outlined in employment legislation.

Developing HR Policies
Sample Policies on Common HR Topics
Employment Legislation & Standards
Human Rights Legislation
Health & Safety Legislation
HR in a Unionized Workplace
Leaves of Absence

Developing HR Policies
This section gives practical information to organizations on how to develop HR policies and procedures. The guide is
designed for small nonprofits. It will be useful to those who are just beginning to develop policies and those who are
reviewing and updating existing policies. Tools you will find in this section include a Policy Template, a Guide to Developing
an Employee Handbook, and a template Statement of Understanding.

It covers the following topics:

Why policies are important

Defining policy and procedure
Steps in developing policies
Role of the board of directors in HR policy
Why policies are important
Policies serve several important functions:

Communicate values and expectations for how things are done at your organization
Keep the organization in compliance with legislation and provide protection against employment claims
Document and implement best practices appropriate to the organization
Support consistent treatment of staff, fairness and transparency
Help management to make decisions that are consistent, uniform and predictable
Protect individuals and the organization from the pressures of expediency

Defining policy and procedure

A policy is a formal statement of a principle or rule that members of an organization must follow. Each policy addresses an
issue important to the organization's mission or operations.
A procedure tells members of the organization how to carry out or implement a policy. Policy is the "what" and the
procedure is the "how to".
Policies are written as statements or rules. Procedures are written as instructions, in logical steps.

Steps in Policy Development

Your workplace is unique and therefore you may need to develop policies very specific to your organization and type of work,
for which there are no templates or benchmarks. Typically, policy development will follow the following steps:

Step 1: Establish need for a policy

Step 2: Develop policy content
Step 3: Draft the policy
Step 4: Write the procedure
Step 5: Review of the policy by key parties
Step 6: Approve the policy
Step 7: Implement the policy
Step 8: Policy review and update
Step 9: Communication of changes to the policy
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STEP 1: Establish need for a policy

In its simplest form, a policy is a written record of a workplace rule.

It is time to develop a policy when:

There is legislation that expressly requires an organization has a policy in place

There is legislation that does not expressly require an organization have a policy, but the regulations and steps to be
followed are tightly defined and a policy will help to ensure the organization is in compliance
There is inconsistency in how employees behave or managers make decisions that is negatively impacting the work
environment or accomplishment of business
There is significant confusion about certain areas of the business or how things are done and the organization would
benefit from a policy
Making the decision to develop a new policy should not be taken lightly:

Policies are developed for the many, not the few when you bring a policy into force you are establishing a standard that
will apply broadly across the organization - not just to a few individuals who may be causing problems
A policy creates a rule or standard to be followed consistently and reduces managements flexibility to treat each situation
as unique
Poorly written and implemented policies can harm rather than protect your organization
It can be difficult to change policies once they have been implemented and become part of your organizations culture and
ways of working
You want to be sure that any policies you bring into the organization address a real need and are in line with what your
company values and how work should be accomplished. You also need to ensure managers have the skills and resources to
be able to implement and monitor the policy.

Areas where policies are commonly established:

Be sure to review relevant federal and provincial employment legislation to understand the policies that are required for
compliance in your jurisdiction. Organizations commonly have written policies in the following areas:

Code of Conduct
Conflict of Interest
Working conditions
Hours of Operations
Termination (Voluntary and Involuntary)
Performance Management
Learning and development
Benefits and Eligibility
Employee Information
Bereavement Leave
Compassionate Leave
Sick Leave, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability
Maternity, Parental, and Adoption Leave
Unpaid Leave
Jury Duty
Family Leave
Grievance/Conflict Resolution
Formal complaint process
Discrimination and Harassment/Respectful Workplace
Health and Safety
Accident Reporting
Workplace Violence
Alcohol and Drug Use Policy
Use of Company Equipment
General policy on the review and update of organization policies

STEP 2: Develop policy content

Legal considerations
For policies required by legislation, much of the policy content may be driven by the requirements of the legislation.
It is not feasible to review all the possible legislation. Therefore, you need to be aware of the legislation that applies in your
jurisdiction and area of work. At minimum, consider the following:

Employment/Labour Standards
Privacy legislation
Occupational Health and Safety
Human Rights
Workers Compensation
Organizations also need to be aware of how legislation may periodically be applicable to their workplace, such as provisions
for releasing staff to vote on election day or legislation relevant to organizing a union.

Other legal considerations may be specific to your workplace. Consider:

What are the legal implications of developing a policy? Remember even though a policy may not be expressly required to
govern a situation, if you develop one and then dont follow it you could be putting your organization at risk.
Do we have any collective agreements that need to be considered?

Operating considerations
Considering the following questions can help you shape a policy that is appropriate to your workplace and organization

What does this policy need to accomplish? What are the outcomes?
How does this policy support the development of our desired work culture
How will this policy be monitored and enforced?
How will this policy impact a managers ability to act, for example, when reviewing performance, awarding promotions,
approving leave, hiring or terminating?
How will this policy impact our ability to attract quality candidates?
How has our organization handled this issue in the past?
Does the size of our workforce justify having a policy about this issue?
Are we willing to invest the time it takes to keep the policy up to date?
Will this policy foster something our organization believes in? For example, if an organization has a "family first"
philosophy, it might want to have family-positive policies, such as flexible work hours.
How does this policy impact funder requirements?
In developing the content of the policy it is good practice to consult with stakeholders, management, staff, and/or a member
of the board. This will help to ensure you get buy in for the policy, address the right issues and have a full perspective.
Identify and connect with comparable organizations that have developed a similar policy and could serve as benchmarks for
best practice. Some parties may have a role at this stage when the content is being drafted; other parties might be better
placed as reviewers after the content has been developed.

STEP 3: Draft the policy

A policy should include the following sections:

The purpose sets out what the policy intends to accomplish, or the goal of the policy. For example, a health and safety policy
may have a purpose of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for all workers in compliance with the relevant health and
safety legislation.
The scope outlines to whom the policy applies. It may apply to all staff and workers, or differentiate based on level, location,
employment status, or department. If the policy also applies to volunteers, contract workers and consultants doing work on
behalf of the company be sure to identify this. The scope should also identify exceptions to the policy.
The statement is the actual rule or standard the policy needs to communicate.
Outline the responsibilities of the board, management and staff in regards to the policy as well as who is responsible for
developing, maintaining, monitoring and implementing the policy.
If there are consequences for not complying with the policy (e.g., disciplinary), be sure to mention this. For example, Failure
to comply with this policy could result in disciplinary measure up to and including just cause for termination of your
Clearly define any terms used within the policy. If the terms are included in legislation that underpin the policy be sure to
use the definitions from the legislation (e.g., disability, prohibited grounds, discrimination, harassment, workplace violence).
Identify the person or position employees can approach if they have questions.
Reference any other policies, documents or legislation that support the interpretation of this policy.
Effective Date
Indicate the date the policy came into effect and the date of any revisions.
Review Date
Indicate the date the policy is due to be reviewed.
Indicate who approved the policy and the date of approval (e.g., the board, the human resources policy committee, the
executive director).

Tips for drafting the policy

Use straightforward clear language and avoid jargon and legal speak - you want the policy to speak directly to the people
for whom it is intended
Check that the content and wording is unbiased and encourages fair, consistent treatment.
Use terms consistently and define any special terms
Be sure that there is only one possible meaning to the standard or rule set by your policy
Its a good idea to consider a few what if scenarios and see if the policy still fits, keeping in mind that most policies will
not, and should not, cover every possible circumstance
For most policies you will want to allow for exceptions to the rule. Use terms like generally, usually, and typically and
avoid terms like always and never
Include a statement like this is intended as a guide only
There are a few situations where you want to be absolutely clear that the standard set by the policy will apply in all
situations. For example, in a violence policy you would want to say violence at work will not be tolerated under any
If using a sample policy or draft, tailor the policy for your specific workplace

STEP 4: Write the procedure

Policies often have a related procedure, which may be a section of the policy or a separate document that the policy refers to.
The procedure gives step-by-step instructions for carrying out the policy. If you determine that a procedure will be developed
be sure to include a statement that it is intended as a guide only. Some legislation specifically requires procedures be
developed so be aware of the legislative requirements that govern your organization.
A vacation policy would say how much vacation employees are allowed. A related procedure would tell employees how to
schedule their vacation time and get approval.
A discrimination policy would communicate the organizations stance on discrimination. A related procedure would tell
an employee how they can raise a complaint and how it will be handled.

STEP 5: Review of the policy by key parties

It is good practice to ask a representative group of managers and employees to review the policy. For some policies you may
also want to involve stakeholders.

Manager review
Ask managers:

Do you have the skills and resources to be able to implement and monitor the policy?
What is your understanding of different parties responsibilities as outlined in the policy?
Is the content and wording unbiased?
What training or information would you require to be able to carry out your responsibilities as outlined in the policy?
What about your staff?
What issues or concerns could implementation of this policy potentially raise among employees and stakeholders?
Employee review
What is you understanding of your responsibilities and the organizations expectations as outlined in the policy?
Is the content and wording unbiased?
What training or information would you require to be able to carry out your responsibilities as outlined in the policy?
What issues or concerns could implementation of this policy potentially raise among employees and stakeholders?
Legal review
This step may not apply to all policies. Complex policies, such as discipline and grievance policies, and policies required by
legislation should be reviewed by a lawyer that specializes in employment law. Ask them to check that the policy:

Complies with employment standards and other federal and provincial legislation
Is consistent with the terms of any collective agreements

STEP 6: Approve the policy

If your board is responsible for giving the final approval on policies, it is often done with a formal, recorded motion. Provide
the board with information on why the policy is needed and the steps you took in developing the content for the policy.
Consult with the board on the scheduled review date. After you have the board approval, add the date of approval to the

STEP 7: Implement the policy

Ways to implement and communicate about policies

Employees, managers and key stakeholder must have access to up-to-date copies of the policies and procedures that are
relevant to their role in the organization and be advised of and understand any new policies or changes to policies coming
into effect.

When selecting methods to communicate policies consider:

Will employees be able to easily access electronic copies or will they need hard copies?
What concerns and issues are likely to be raised about the policy and how will they be dealt with? If concerns are likely to
be significant an initial face to face communication through an information session or manager communication will be a
more effective approach than an email.
Does the policy provide enough information for managers and staff to be able to effectively implement and comply with
the policy or will they need training or additional information?
The methods below are often used in combination to develop a strategy to ensure employees are aware of, understand and
have the skills to implement and comply with the policies that underpin how they work.

Employee handbooks
An employee handbook describes the organization's policies and procedures. The handbook may also contain general
information about the organization such as its priorities, the organization chart, the job classifications, whether positions are
covered by a collective agreement and bargaining status for all groups of employees.
You may have separate handbooks for managers and staff or you may have one handbook that applies to both groups. For
the employer, the handbook can form part of the documentation that your staff were made aware of the organizations rules
and standards and understand the consequences of not complying with the policies. Of course, this is dependent on your
employees having received and understood the policies contained within the handbook so it is often a good idea to ask
employees to sign astatement confirming this.
Benefits of having an employee handbook include:
A comprehensive source for understanding the practices of the organization
Useful for orienting employees
Employees can independently find answers to their questions, supporting confidentiality
Saves management time spent on clarifying expectations
Helps others quickly understand your workplace practices
Supports communication and accountability
Allows you to tie in the broader context, such as the organizations vision, objectives and values
A few points of caution:

For the handbook to serve as valid documentation, it must be updated as policies are updated and changed. For this
reason it is often a good idea to designate someone with this responsibility.
Often a handbook will be written in a less formal style and include only summaries of each policy. In order to be able to
rely on the handbook for documentation that your employees were made aware of the organizations policies, it needs to
include all the key points of the policy and reference where staff can access the full versions of the policies.
Since the policies and procedures and content of the handbook may change from time to time, include a statement that the
employer has the right, in its sole discretion, to add, amend, or delete any policy or procedure it its handbook.

Sample Employee Handbook (DOC 181KB)

Geared towards small organizations, this employee handbook covers time away from work, harassment, confidentiality,
performance appraisals and more. The handbook is ideally suited as a starting point for organizations without formal HR
policies and procedures, or as a reference for those who are updating existing policies.
Personnel policy and procedures manuals
A manual includes more detailed collections of policy, procedures and guides, and is often used as a management tool for
supervisory staff. Again, it is important that the manual is kept up to date with the most recent versions of the policies.

Intranet and shared Drives

Organizations can make their policies available to employees electronically either on an intranet or on shared drives. This is
advantageous as employees can access the policy directly and old versions can easily be removed and replaced with updated

Staff can easily be made aware of a new policy by e-mail. If providing a copy of the policy with the e-mail it is often better to
provide the link to where the employee can access the policy rather than the actual policy so that it is always the most recent
version of the policy being accessed.

Information sessions
Holding an information session is a good way to ensure that employees understand a new policy and have the opportunity to
ask questions. It is particularly useful when concerns may be significant. In the session cover the following:
Business decisions that led to the development of the policy
Goal of the policy
Process taken in developing the policy (e.g., consultation, research, benchmarking)
How the new policy impacts employees and expectations
It is a good idea to keep a record of attendance for the session so you can follow up with anyone that was not able to attend,
and have documentation that the policy was communicated.

Policy training sessions

Some provinces have legislation where employers are required to train employees on certain policies. Additionally, training
sessions for managers are a good option for policies that are complicated or have extensive procedures, such as disciplinary,
dispute resolutions and health and safety. When developing a policy training session include the same topics as you would
for the information session plus the following:

Training on the specific skills that are needed to implement the policy
Specific procedures, guidance and resources available to managers and employees to help them implement the policy
Clear expectations of behavior
How the policy will monitored
Any specific training requirements of the legislation if the training session is required
Statements of understanding
For important policies and possibly the employee handbook, you may want to have each employee sign a statement
acknowledging that they have read, understand, and agree to abide by the policy. If you do this, you must have a plan for
consistently ensuring that all current and new employees receive a policy orientation and sign a statement and that they do
this every time there are significant updates to the policy. This approach is particularly recommended where contravening
the policy could result in harm to the employee (e.g., requirements to wear protective equipment when working) or where
disciplinary measures could result from not following the policy (e.g., harassment).

Statement of Understanding
Ongoing communication
Your policies will underpin how much of your work is done. The principles should become integrated into how your
company accomplishes its work. Use bulletin boards, newsletters, Internet home pages and emails to remind employees of
key principles of the policies. Encourage managers to review the values that underpin your policies during the performance

Unilaterally introducing policies

As part of its management rights, the employer is permitted to introduce a unilateral policy without negotiating the terms of
the policy with the bargaining agent for the employees. To do so, however, the policy must:

Be consistent with the terms of the collective agreement

Be reasonable
Be clear and unequivocal
Be brought to the attention of the employee before the employer can act upon it
Be consistently enforced from the time it was introduced
Make employees aware that breach of the rule may result in discipline, up to and including discharge from employment
Collectively, the above six factors are colloquially called the KVP Rules.
The employer would have to demonstrate compliance with the last five factors if it wishes to rely upon discipline or discharge
of a non-unionized employee because of a violation of an employer policy. It is recommended that an employer seeks legal
advice before discharging an employee for cause based on violation of a policy.

STEP 8: Policy review and update

Your policies should be scheduled to be reviewed and updated regularly. A reasonable period between complete reviews is
two to three years, although some provinces have legislation that requires certain polices be reviewed annually. Policies that
are affected by changes to government legislation should be reviewed as soon as there are any changes to the law.

Your board may also set a timeframe for the review of policies. It can be helpful to provide the governing authority with a
report on how policies are applied and any revisions that are being considered to the policies.

When reviewing policies consider the following:

Has the legal environment or regulations changed in a way that impacts the policy? At minimum you will want to review
employment/labour standards, privacy legislation, occupational health and safety, human rights, workers compensation?
Has the policy been effectively implemented?
How effective has it been in dealing with relevant situations?
What feedback have you received from managers and employees on the policy?
Is the policy accomplishing the objective for which it was intended?
Changes to policies will usually require it goes through your organizations approval process.

STEP 9: Communication of changes to policies

Some changes to policy may be so fundamental that they could attract claims of constructive dismissal. It is critical to
provide employees with sufficient notice of any fundamental change in a term or condition of their employment. If you are
uncertain it is prudent to seek legal advice.
Make sure that significant updates to policies are communicated and that if employees are required to a statement of
understanding, this forms part of the communication of the updated policy.

Role of the board of directors in HR policy development

Boards can play a variety of roles in HR policy development. It is helpful to have the board clearly define the role they want
to take in policy development, whether they want to be involved in shaping the content or be involved only at the approval
stage. They may decide that only some fundamental policies require their review and other policies can be approved and
managed by the executive director. Alternatively, a board may form an HR committee to write policies and procedures. The
board may set a time frame for reviewing HR policies, or they may delegate this responsibility.
If your organization develops a policy on the development, review and update of organization policies, the role of the board
can be outlined in it.

Sample Policies on Common HR Topics

In this section you'll find introductions to the HR policy topics listed below. These introductions will give you things to think
about when developing a policy on each topic. You will also find samples for each topic that have been shared by nonprofits
across Canada.

Alternative work arrangements

Code of conduct
Conflict of interest
Conflict resolution
Contract workers and employment status
Dress code
Employee expense policy
Employee non-solicitation
Employee records
Expenses and allowances
Hiring - recruitment and selection
Hiring - offer of employment
Hiring - probation
Hiring - orientation
Hiring - employment of relatives
Hiring - filling of temporarily vacant positions
Hours of work
Outside employment
Internet and e-mail use
Job evaluation
Leaves - bereavement and compassionate leave
Leaves - general leave, professional development and educational leave
Leaves - jury and witness duty
Leaves - maternity leave, parental and adoption leave
Leaves - sick and personal leave
Leaves - time off to vote
Occupational health and safety
Pay administration
Performance management
Professional development
Privacy Policy
Recognition and reward
Substance use
Whistle blower
Workplace diversity

HR Policies & Employment Legislation

Employment Legislation and Standards

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult a lawyer.

Employment standards are the minimum standards of employment for workplaces required by law. Employment standards
cover many aspects of employment including, but not limited to, the following topic areas:

Minimum wage Resolving disputes

Minimum daily pay Termination
Meal breaks Maternity leave
Payment of earnings Weekly day of rest
(paydays) Deductions
Hours of work Keeping records
Overtime Sexual harassment
Statutory holidays Probationary periods
Annual vacation Parental leave
Vacation pay Definition of
Employment of people under "employee"
Leave from work
Any HR policies that you develop around the above topics, and any others covered by employment standards, must not
provide less than what is offered in the legislation and/ or regulations. The employment standards legislation offers
minimum standards; employers are free to develop policies or practices that enhance (provide better standards) than what is
allowed for in the law.

Human Rights Legislation

Human rights legislation is put in place to protect people from discrimination. It seeks to guarantee people equal treatment
regardless of certain identified characteristics (called prohibited grounds of discrimination) that have attracted historical
stereotyping or bias in relation to employment.

Employers, including nonprofit organizations, need to be aware of human rights legislation as it applies to all practices
of employment, including:
Recruitment ads Promotion
Application forms Demotion
Interviews Benefits
Hiring Wages

Dismissal/terminati Workplace
on harassment
As organizations strive to create a better world through their missions, it is important that they also work at creating
inclusive workplaces that are respectful and welcoming of diversity. Most of the sites below have excellent resources and
tools that your organization can use in creating policies, in the hiring process, and in building a more diverse and respectful
workforce. We encourage you to explore several of the websites below as they offer a wealth of information that can often be
applied across provincial/territorial lines. Particular attention should be paid to the employers duty to accommodate an
employee in the workplace.

Health & Safety Legislation

Occupational health and safety legislation regulates the standards of workplace health and safety with the aim to prevent
workplace accidents, injuries and diseases, and outlines consequences for breaches of those standards. It details
responsibilities of employers, supervisors, and employees. Generally, the legislation requires that the employer do
everything they can reasonably do to protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. This includes, but is
not limited to: providing appropriate training for handling potentially dangerous equipment and/or material, informing
employees of potential dangers in the workplace, and setting up safe work practices. Under the legislation, employees have
the right to refuse to perform work that is unsafe.

Health and safety are important issues in all workplaces and as such, organizations are required to comply with health and
safety regulations and acts.
Health and safety is usually regulated by provincial or territorial legislation, unless your organization falls under federal
jurisdiction. While all provinces and territories have similar legislation, there are differences among them. It is very
important to visit your province or territorys health and safety website for information that is relevant to you and your

You need to consult health and safety legislation on a variety of issues, including but not limited to:

Refusal to work because of unsafe conditions

Violence in the workplace
Dangerous equipment/material
Emergency procedures
Lifting heavy objects
First aid skills requirements
And others
We encourage you to contact your provincial/territorial office dealing with occupational health and safety if you have any
questions or concerns about your workplace. See below for the websites.

Workers Compensations Boards are insurance boards that protect employers from being sued by employees who are injured
on the job or who become ill because of workplace conditions. They also ensure that employees will have access to income
and benefits if they become injured at work or if they contract a disease caused by workplace conditions. In some
jurisdictions Workers Compensation Boards provide ongoing training and resources about occupational health and safety. In
the links below, we've included the body responsible for providing this information and, where they are separate
organizations, the link to the Workers Compensation Board.

HR in a Unionized Workplace
This section of the HR Toolkit provides a conceptual overview of the various elements and phases in the field of labour
relations. Although there are many similarities across the country, there are also significant differences. There is also
considerable variation depending on the type of sector in which an employer is operating. Readers should consider this to be
a non-specific overview of labour relations in Canada, and should refer for specific details to the legislation and processes for
his or her type of organization and province of jurisdiction.

Similar to many areas of the law, attention to jurisdiction, detail, and deadlines is critical. We strongly encourage you to
contact a labour relations professional or a labour lawyer for more tailored information and advice.

This information is not intended or offered as legal advice and is presented for educational and
information purposes only.
Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship
between this site, the author(s), or the publisher, and the readers or any other user. No person should not act, or fail to act,
upon this information or the contents of the HR Toolkit without seeking professional counsel.

In this Section:
Labour Legislation
Collective Bargaining
Dispute Resolution
Union/Management Relationships
Links & Resources

Labour Relations encompass all aspects of the employment relationship between an employer and its unionized
employees. It is also called Industrial Relations or Employee Relations, although the latter term could signify
relationships between an employer and its non-unionized employees.
Labour Law governs the rights and obligations of workers, unions, and employers and covers areas such as certification of
unions, collective agreement negotiations and provisions, unfair labour practices, dispute resolution, and union-
management relationships.
Various jurisdictions and employment sectors use different terms. However, the following are relatively standard definitions
of key terms.

Arbitration The process of submitting a dispute between the parties to a collective agreement to an
independent tribunal or body for the purposes of resolving the dispute. When the employer
and the union cannot resolve a matter involving the collective agreement, the third-party
arbitrator (or board of arbitration) makes a decision about the matter in dispute. The
decision of the tribunal or body is binding upon the parties. The parties can resort to
arbitration for an interest dispute or a rights dispute. An interest dispute involves a dispute
about the terms of the collective agreement if the parties are unable to negotiate those
terms (e.g. wage increases). A rights dispute involves a decision about the interpretation
and application of the collective agreement during the term of that collective agreement.

Bad Faith Bargaining An allegation that one of the parties to the negotiation has deliberately breached its
obligation to sincerely attempt to reach a collective agreement.

Bargaining Agent A certified trade union that has been granted rights under labour legislation to act on
behalf of a bargaining unit and to be the exclusive agent for those employees. The employer
is obligated to negotiate with the bargaining agent and cannot negotiate with individual
employees in the bargaining unit.

Bargaining Parties The employer and the union representing the employees.

Bargaining Unit A group of workers in a trade, department, plant, firm, industry, or occupation, determined
by a labour relations board as the appropriate unit for representation by a union for
purposes of collective bargaining.

Bargaining With Prejudice A bargaining process where the parties sign-off, or sign agreement, on the proposal,
including draft language, at the time that the individual proposal is being considered.
Neither side can then go back or renege on the agreed-upon proposals.

Bargaining Without A bargaining process where nothing is formally agreed to, or signed off, until all proposals
Prejudice have been considered and either agreed to as a package, or withdrawn, even though the
parties may agree in principle to proposals as the negotiation proceeds. Nothing is signed
off until the end of the negotiations.

Certification The official designation by a labour relations board of a union as sole and exclusive
bargaining agent, following proof of support among employees in the proposed bargaining
unit as determined by the governing labour legislation.

Collective Agreement A written agreement between the employer and the union that contains terms and
conditions of employment for the represented employees. Generally the agreement is for a
defined term, subject to renegotiation at the end of the term. Also called a "collective
bargaining agreement" or "contract", it is a legally enforceable, binding contract between
the parties.

Concession A concession is something that is given up - for example, a right, privilege, or a point in an
argument. In labour relations terms, granting a concession involves accepting the other
party's proposal. Concessions are usually two-way in an effective collective bargaining
session. For example, the employer might concede a wage increase in exchange for a
reduction in overall benefit costs.
Conciliation/Mediation The process of referring a dispute to an independent third party to assist the parties to
resolve the dispute. The parties are free to accept or reject the recommendations of the
conciliator/mediator. In some jurisdictions and sectors, conciliation is a mandatory step in
the bargaining process if the bargaining parties cannot reach a collective agreement
through negotiations.

Duty of Fair Representation The duty conferred on the union to represent the employees in a bargaining unit in a
manner which is not arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith, whether or not those
employees have actually joined the union.

Grievance A grievance is a legal mechanism by which the union and the employer resolve disputes
between them about issues in the workplace. For example, a grievance may involve a
complaint by an employee, the union or the employer alleging that the employer, or a
member of management, or the union has violated a legally binding term of a collective

The collective agreement may contain provisions for what can or cannot be grieved. For
example, it may contain a provision that the union cannot grieve the discharge of a
probationary employee (unless that discharge was discriminatory). The procedure for
advancing and resolving or arbitrating grievances is normally contained in the collective

Impasse An impasse occurs when it is impossible to reach an agreement on all of some of the
bargaining proposals because the parties are so far apart in their expectations and

Interest Dispute A dispute between the bargaining parties about the proposed terms and conditions in a
collective agreement.

Labour Relations Board/ A board established under provincial or federal labour relations legislation to administer
Industrial Relations Board and adjudicate labour law, including certification of trade unions as bargaining agents,
determination of bargaining units, investigation of unfair labour practices, and other
functions prescribed under the legislation.

Lockout A stage in a labour dispute in which the employer refuses work to employees or closes its
establishment in order to force the settlement of a collective agreement on its proposed

Management Rights The body of rights that are not the subject of negotiation between the parties or of a
collective bargaining agreement. These rights may include level of staffing, work
scheduling, performance appraisal, discipline, etc. Those rights are specifically reserved
through a "management rights" clause in the collective agreement.

Certain rights can be inherent (e.g. an organization's right to appoint a board of directors)
while others may have to be specifically reserved by management (e.g. an organization's
right to discipline employees without prior consent by the union)

Memorandum of A formal document executed by the bargaining parties setting out the terms voluntarily
Settlement negotiated for a collective agreement. Such a memorandum typically requires ratification
to become effective.

Organizing The process by which a union attempts to organize a non-unionized group of employees to
form part of a union. Also called an organizing drive.

Ratification Formal approval by the respective principals of both negotiating parties of a proposed
memorandum of settlement. The employees represented by the union typically ratify the
memorandum of settlement through a secret ballot vote. Ratification by the employer is
through a vote of the board of directors or governing body.

Rights Dispute A grievance between the parties about how a term or condition of the collective agreement
has been applied to an employee or group of employees. Could also entail a policy
grievance by the union or a grievance by the employer against the union.

Statutory Freeze The period of time, from the filing of an application for certification and until the right to
lock out or to strike is exercised or an arbitration award is handed down, during which the
employer cannot change the conditions of employment of employees without the written
consent of each union seeking certification or, where such is the case, the certified
union. The statutory freeze also generally operates during the period after the expiration of
the collective agreement until the right to lock out or to strike is exercised or until an
arbitration award is handed down.

Strike A cessation of work by the employees or a refusal to work or to continue work by

employees in combination or in accordance with a common understanding for the purpose
of compelling an employer to agree to terms or conditions of employment. Usually the last
stage of collective bargaining when all other means to reach an agreement have failed.
Generally, strikes are illegal once a collective agreement is in force.

Unfair Labour Practice A practice on the part of the employer or the union that violates a federal or provincial
labour law.

Union Security A provision in a collective agreement designed to protect the institutional authority of the
union. Examples of union security clauses are: (1) closed shop, an agreement between
union and employer that the employer may hire only union members and retain only union
members in the workplace; (2) union shop, an agreement that the employer may hire
anyone he wants, but all workers must join the union within a specified time after being
hired and retain membership as a condition of continuing employment; and (3) open shop,
a provision that no employee is required to be part of the union to secure or retain
employment. A modified union shop is where the employee is represented by and must
pay dues to the union (called "mandatory check-off") as a condition of employment.
Labour Legislation
By and large, every employee has the right under labour legislation to join and participate in a trade union of his or her
choice. However, labour legislation may specifically define what is an employee and it is important to check the legislation
for the particular jurisdiction. For example, in some jurisdictions managers (as defined in the legislation) would not be
permitted to join or participate in the trade union.

Under the Constitution of Canada, labour legislation is primarily a provincial responsibility. Each province has its own
labour legislation to govern workers and employers in the province. However, the federal government has jurisdiction for
labour legislation in federally regulated industries, such as banks, air transport and airports, various telecommunications
concerns, certain extra-provincial or international industries, and Crown corporations.

In general, the purpose of labour legislation is to facilitate the relationship between an employer, its employees, and a trade
union, most notably during union organizing, certification, collective agreement negotiation, strikes and lockouts, and
dispute resolution.

The legislation also typically confers penalties on the party that breaches its obligations under the legislation, particularly if
the party commits an unfair labour practice or acts discriminatory or in bad faith towards employees who are attempting to
exercise their rights under the legislation.

Frequently, regulations are enacted under the legislation to deal with specific rules or procedures. For example, the British
Columbia Labour Relations Code has a regulation prescribing the type of evidence required to demonstrate support for
union representation purposes.

Certification is the process by which a trade union is legally recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for a group of
employees. In order to be certified, the union must demonstrate that it has the support of the employees in the proposed
bargaining unit. The level and type of proof varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some provinces require that a vote be
taken of the employees as proof of their desire to be represented by a union.

In most jurisdictions, the union must also satisfy the labour relations board that it has the prerequisites to be recognized as a
valid or viable trade union before it can become certified.

At the federal level, and in some provinces, a labour board has the power to automatically certify a union if the employer
commits an unfair labour practice and, but for that practice, the union would likely have had the requisite amount of
employee support for the union.

Once certified, the union acquires the right to bargain with the employer on behalf of the employees in the bargaining unit
and to enter into a collective agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the employment for those employees. In
exchange for that right, the union has the duty to represent all of the employees in the bargaining unit in a manner which is
not arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith, whether or not those employees have actually joined the union.

Frequently, the employer disagrees with the union on what might be the appropriate bargaining unit or on what specific
employees will fall within that unit. There is a specialized process for dispute resolution on those issues.
The employer can also voluntarily recognize a trade union as the sole bargaining agent for its employees.

After certification, the employees will typically set out a constitution, by-laws, and procedures for their union local. They will
also appoint certain individuals to speak on their behalf (e.g. a bargaining committee, union stewards who will carry forward
grievances, health and safety representative, etc.).

Collective Bargaining
Once a union has been certified or voluntarily recognized, the employer and the union must meet in an attempt to reach a
collective agreement. The employer must respect the statutory freeze period and cannot change the terms and conditions of
employment for its employees until an agreement has been reached voluntarily, until there is a lockout or strike, or pursuant
to the arbitration provisions in the legislation.

The collective agreement is a contract setting out the terms and conditions of employees in the bargaining unit. Once
ratified, it becomes a legally enforceable and binding contract. It normally has a defined term and is subject to re-negotiation
on a pre-determined schedule. Unless the legislation otherwise specifies, the agreement usually states whether it will expire
at the end of the term, until it is re-negotiated, or whether it will continue in full force and effect until a renewal agreement is

As soon as a union represents the employee, the employee and the employer cannot negotiate with each other over
individual terms and conditions of employment. The union is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for the employees it
represents. The employer must deal with the appointed union representatives.

The terms and conditions of employment will vary from workplace to workplace. Typically, the following types of provisions
are contained in collective agreements:


Recognition and scope (e.g. description of the bargaining unit)

Management rights
Union security
Health and safety
Hours of work, overtime
Dismissal and suspension
Layoff and recall
Contracting out
Grievance procedure
Term of the agreement (Duration)
One of the fundamental protections usually contained in a collective agreement is an employee's seniority right. Seniority
provisions are negotiated into collective agreements for the benefit of the senior (i.e. in terms of length of service) employees.
The provisions seek to protect and give preference in jobs, promotions, layoffs and recalls, and other opportunities to
employees with greater seniority. For example, in a layoff situation, the employee with the most seniority will generally be
the one who is last laid off (the "first in, last out" seniority rule). Seniority confers value on an employee who expends his or
her energies and efforts on behalf of his employer over a period of time.

In some provinces, labour legislation mandates certain provisions for collective agreements, for example:

Prohibiting strikes or lockouts during the term of the agreement

Stipulating that the collective agreement be for a minimum term of one year
Requiring that every collective agreement contain a provision for the final and binding settlement, without stoppage of
work, of all disputes between the parties regarding the agreement
Of critical importance is that a term or condition of a collective agreement cannot diminish or take away rights that an
employee would otherwise have had under law. For example, the employer and union cannot agree to provide for lower than
the minimum wage or to eliminate a statutory holiday.

The parties should be aware that, even though the collective agreement is silent about a legal right or obligation, that right or
obligation is not eliminated. Indeed, the right or obligation may form part of the collective agreement even in the absence of
language. For example, arbitrators have the lawful right to assume that the prohibition against discrimination in Human
Rights Codes is poured into a collective agreement even if the agreement does not contain language to that extent. The same
principle holds true for other employment legislation, such as Employment Standards and Health and Safety.

The Government of Canada sponsors a useful, up-to-date website containing collective agreements from employers and
unions across Canada, no matter the province of jurisdiction, called Negotech. Customized searches can be easily done
through the database. Several provincial labour ministries also provide access to collective agreements in the specific

Dispute Resolution
There are generally two types of disputes arising from a collective agreement. One is the interest dispute which is a
dispute between the bargaining parties about the proposed terms and conditions in a collective agreement. The other is
a rights dispute which is a dispute between the parties about the application of a specific provision in the collective
agreement to an employee or a group of employees. A rights dispute can pertain to an individual employee or group of
employees or can pertain to a policy of the employer that affects all employees in the bargaining unit.

Interest Disputes
Sometimes despite their best and sincere efforts, the parties are not able to reach an agreement voluntarily. At some point in
the process, the employees have the right to strike and employer has the right to lock out the employees (or either party can
impose some other form of work stoppage or slowdown).

All jurisdictions require that employees take a compulsory strike vote prior to going on strike, although the point at which
the vote must occur in the collective bargaining process, and the point at which the vote expires, varies from province to
province. Some provinces require that a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit must vote in favour of a strike;
others require only a majority of those employees who actually vote.

In some provinces and at the federal level, the Minister responsible for Labour or the Labour Board must be advised before a
strike or lockout commences. In some provinces, a strike or lockout cannot be commenced until a mediator/conciliator has
been appointed to assist the parties to reach an agreement. Only Manitoba and Quebec have no formal prerequisites to a
strike or lockout (other than by employee vote).

In most jurisdictions, the parties may agree to submit the dispute to binding interest arbitration. They can do this in addition
to or instead of a strike or lockout. In some provinces and at the Federal level, provision is made for the jurisdictional
Minister of Labour to establish an Industrial Inquiry Commission, or some other body, to assist in the settlement of the

Depending on the jurisdiction, arbitration may be mandatory if the parties are attempting to reach their first collective

In addition, the Federal Government and some provinces provide for circumstances where the employees must vote on the
last offer proposed by the employer, or in some cases by the union.

Rights Disputes

Most provinces require that the collective agreement provide for the arbitration of any disputes arising from the
interpretation, application, operation, or alleged violation of a term of the collective agreement, including whether the issue
is indeed arbitrable. A rights dispute is often called a grievance.

Generally, collective agreements will include a grievance procedure that sets out the various progressive steps that the
parties will take prior to referring a dispute to arbitration and the timelines for doing so.

Typically, if internal dispute resolution fails, the union has the sole discretion (subject to its duty of fair representation) on
whether or not it wants to submit an employee's grievance to arbitration. The union has carriage of the grievance and pays
for any of its costs in advancing it to arbitration. While the employee has the right to be present during any of the dispute
resolution hearings (grievance or arbitration), he or she does not have the automatic right to advance a complaint through
the various stages of the grievance or arbitration processes.

Once at arbitration, it is not unusual for the parties to agree to settle their differences with the arbitrator acting as mediator
rather than decision maker. Obviously, a mutually agreeable settlement is better for all parties than a third-party imposed

If the matter is arbitrated, the decision of the arbitrator is final and binding on the parties and is generally enforceable
through the civil courts.

There are frequent differences of opinion between an employer and a union on whether or not certain issues are capable of
being the subject of arbitration (i.e. are arbitrable). It is important, therefore, that a labour relations professional or a lawyer
assist the parties to construct the grievance and arbitration language of a collective agreement in order to minimize the
frequency of those differences.

Union/Management Relationships
Respect is the key to a successful relationship between the employer and the union representing its employees.
The employer must respect the role of the union as the sole and exclusive agent of the employees. The union must respect the
employer's exclusive right to manage its operations and to direct its work forces. Both parties must recognize and
acknowledge their respective rights and obligations under labour and other employment legislation and under the collective
agreement, and the rights and obligations of the employees covered by the agreement.

Above all, the employer must respect the fact that the employees have a right to join and participate in a union, including the
right to strike, without fear of intimidation, coercion, harassment, or undue influence by the employer. The union must also
abide by its obligations to treat all employees fairly and in good faith, and to treat management with appropriate respect.

The employer and the union must agree to and then respect the overall purposes of a collective agreement: (1) to establish
mutually satisfactory relations between the employer and its employees; (2) to establish and maintain satisfactory working
conditions, hours of work, and wages for all employees who are subject to the provisions of the agreement; and (3) to provide
procedures for the prompt and equitable resolution of disputes.

One of the fundamental principles of labour law and labour legislation is to encourage both parties to a collective agreement
to reconcile and resolve their differences and disputes. To foster good relationships, both parties should commit to resolving
those differences and disputes in a proactive, collaborative way that embraces the principles of fairness, respect, and dignity.
As much as possible, disputes should be resolved between a worker and his or her supervisor, at the first instance. An
environment of respectful front-line resolution should prevail. Third party intervention should only be used as a last resort
when the parties are at an impasse and cannot see their way to a voluntary resolution.

The employer must provide fair and competitive wages, benefits, and working conditions when compared to similar
workplaces. It must share sufficient and topical information with the union to permit the union to represent its members
fairly and diligently. It must openly listen to the union as the collective voice of the employees especially in matters dealing
with policy or operational efficiency and effectiveness. It must involve the union in issues where the employees may be
negatively affected by operational or financial plans.

Both parties should work toward establishing and fostering a two-way communication system. They should not only come
together to resolve a dispute. They should build collaborative strategies on ways to further their mutual goals, to provide
efficient and effective services to their clients or customers, and to make the workplace better for the employees.

A co-operative union-management relationship must be built on a foundation of mutual benefit, honesty, fairness and - most
importantly - trust.

Leaves of Absence
In general, employees are entitled to leaves of absence for the following reasons: pregnancy, parental and adoption
responsibilities, illness, family emergency, bereavement, to serve on a jury or as a witness, and to vote. Leaves can be with
pay or without pay.

Leave policies and practices must comply with the minimum standards required by law, which vary by province and
Leave policies and practices may exceed minimum standards. To serve your organization's values or goals and to meet your
employees' needs, your policy can offer longer leaves than the law requires. Your policy can stipulate that employees will be
paid while they are on leave when the law does not say you must. You may also introduce leaves for reasons not covered in
the law - for example, educational leave to can be a good way to encourage employee development can offer longer leaves
than the law requires. Or, your policy can stipulate that employees will be paid while they are on leave. Your policies will be
shaped by your organization's goals, employees' needs and your budget.

In this Section:
Parental Leave
Leaves for Jury or Witness Duty
Parental Leave
Below are links (where available) to information on provincial and territorial websites that deal specifically with maternity,
parental and adoption leave. For information about Employment Insurance (EI) and maternity and parental benefits, click