Labour Law is a specialized area of Employment Law. Labour Lawyers represent either employers or unions and work with the parties to negotiate collective agreements and resolve issues (in Canada called “grievances”) that arise from time to time in the workplace.
A private individual does not normally have a reason to hire a Labour Lawyer unless, of course, that individual owns a business and the employees in that business have decided to join a union and bargain collectively with respect to their terms and conditions of employment.
If you are a business owner and discover that a union is working with some of your company’s employees to bring the union into the workplace, you must resist the urge to become angry and fire the employees you think are behind the union’s organizing drive.
Employees in Canada (with only a few, limited, exceptions) have the legal right to have a union represent them and if you react with open hostility, you will find yourself in considerable difficulty, First of all, you will most likely be legally required to return any employees you fired to work (and to compensate them for the income they lost). But, more importantly, you will be helping the union prove its case to employees who may not want a union that they need one.
Unions and the laws protecting them and the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively exist because employers in the past often mistreated their employees by failing to pay them fair wages and not providing safe working conditions, among other deficiencies.
Many small to mid-size business owners think of their employees as almost family and it can be painful if those employees “turn on you” and bring in a union. Do not get angry (or, if you do, keep it to yourself). Instead, meet immediately with a Labour Lawyer to learn what it is you and cannot do in response to a union organizing drive.
If your company is large enough that you no longer know every employee by name and cannot have a breakroom conversation with each of them about, for instance, their children or hobbies, you may wish to sit down with a Labour Lawyer to review your compensation and benefits package and policies and procedures. If you pay fair wages and provide competitive benefits and have policies and procedures that employees can see are respectful of their rights as well as yours as the employer, it is unlikely you will need a Labour Lawyer for any other reason.
If you are an employee of a company that treats its people poorly, it is a simple matter of a quick online search to find the union that represents employees in the economic sector in which your employer operates. A union organizer will almost always be happy to meet with you and explain how the union can help you and your fellow employees. Initial meetings will be held at confidential times and places. You do not need a Labour Lawyer to meet with a union representative.