School boards have faced a monumental change with the move to a tri-party central bargaining structure that now runs in parallel with local bargaining. This is a significant departure from how collective bargaining has historically occurred in the sector—with a number of challenges as parties work through the new system.
Hicks Morley has been at the forefront of this process—helping school board clients in all aspects of collective bargaining negotiations. We have provided services to Ontario school boards for more than 50 years and have an intimate knowledge of the playing field and the parties at the table. The depth and breadth of our school board work is unmatched by any other Ontario law firm. More than 30 of our lawyers are regularly engaged in school board work in every Ontario region, allowing us to incorporate best practices from across the province.
We act for over 50 public, Catholic and French-language district school boards across Ontario on labour, employment and education law issues.
In addition to participating in collective bargaining negotiations and interpreting collective agreements for our clients, the breadth of our services to school boards include:
- helping to proactively address human rights issues and student rights disputes, as well as providing advice related to discrimination allegations and the duty to accommodate
- preparing human rights policies and complaint procedures
- conducting teacher and support staff grievance arbitrations including such issues as the meaning of “instructional time,” access to paid religious holidays, attendance management and the re-assignment of teachers following maternity leave
- managing special education issues
- interpreting and applying the Education Act and its regulations
- handling freedom of information requests
- advising on employment standards (e.g. lunch break entitlements, religious holidays) and pay equity issues
We also provide advice and representation related to:
- board governance, including Trustee Codes of Conduct and Conflict of Interest
- strike management and labour injunctions
- safe schools
- school closures
- teacher and staff performance, discipline and termination
- guardianship and custody issues
- dealing with the Child and Family Services Act and the police
- student discipline and truancy
We have also represented school boards in dozens of key decisions delivered by all levels of court—up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada. These include class actions, Charter claims, coroner’s inquests—and issues such as school closures, education malpractice, and access to Ontario Student Records. In addition to appearing before the courts, we also represent our clients at hearings before arbitrators, labour boards, human rights tribunals, student appeals bodies and other internal committees.