Self-Storage Employment Issues in Canada

Scott Zucker Comments
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Peacekeeping

Generally, an employment agreement can be used to clarify a number of issues between the operator and its employees, leaving little room for misunderstandings and disputes. The following are provisions that can be included in standard employment agreements for this purpose.

Recording conversations. In the event an employer provides an employee with any review or critique of performance under this agreement, or employer or its representatives visits or calls the facility posing as prospective tenants, employer reserves the right to, and employee agrees that, employer may record such conversations. Such recordings shall be the sole property of employer and will not be disclosed to any third party except in the case of judicial or other legal proceedings where such conversations may be at issue.

Background checks and credit history. Background and credit history checks are a condition of this employment.

Drug testing. Employer reserves the right to perform random drug testing at its discretion.

Smoking. No employee, under any circumstance, is permitted to smoke within the residence, the office or any of the storage units.

Uniforms. Any uniforms provided for the employee’s use must remain the property of the employer and shall be returned upon termination of employment. Employer reserves the right to withhold any final wages needed to replace said uniforms.

Company property. Upon the termination of this agreement, for whatever reason, employee shall return to employer all customer lists, books, records, keys and any other property of employer in employee’s possession at the time of termination, it being understood that all such lists, books, records, keys and other property shall remain the exclusive property of employer.

Here and There

Companies using U.S. employment agreements or handbooks for their Canadian employees may find documents are unenforceable across the border. Canadian law strongly favors employees in the context of employer bad conduct. No employment agreement will defeat a justifiable claim against a Canadian employer who has treated employees unfairly, especially in the context of job terminations.

Canada has proactive employment and pay-equity laws protecting women, racial minorities and persons with disabilities. The government and each province have passed statutes restricting an employer’s ability to discriminate among employees based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, age or physical disabilities. The main goal of Canada’s equity laws has been to require employers and trade unions to proactively identify and redress discrimination in recruitment, treatment, compensation, promotion and retention of employees who historically may have been disadvantaged in the workplace.

The search for self-storage managers can be challenging. Operators seek individuals who are equally comfortable renting units as selling boxes, and can handle sophisticated computer systems while coping with difficult tenants. U.S. companies hiring managers to work in Canada must be cognizant of the differences in laws that establish the relationship between employers and their Canadian employees, otherwise legal conflicts could arise. Operators might be best to seek counsel for legal assistance as they travel over the border to open their self-storage facilities.

Scott I. Zucker is a partner in the law firm of Weissmann Zucker Euster P.C. He represents self-storage owners throughout the country in matters that include contracting for construction, preparing lease agreements, defending tenant claims and handling employment disputes. Mr. Zucker can be reached at 404.364.4626; e-mail scott@wzlegal.com.

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