Course Exam: AU Courses up Close – Employment Law in Canada (HRMT 322)

As of January 12, 2005, another new Athabasca University course has launched! Employment Law in Canada (HRMT 322) explores what was originally referred to as “Master and Servant Law” – that is, the legal relationship between employers and their employees. Course author A.N. Khan, Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies at AU, indicates that he wrote this course to “highlight the law that determines the rights and duties of the majority of non-unionized workers,” as many people “are not aware that the majority of Canadian workers are non-unionized employees.” Employment Law in Canada (HRMT 322) focuses primarily on two broad concepts in employment law; first, the rules related to contract laws, and second, an examination of government legislations toward employers and employees.

HRMT 322 consists of eight exciting units. The first introduces and defines the concept of employment law, providing an adequate background in the subject. It discusses how the concept of employment law that we are familiar with today has interesting roots, dating from the ancient feudal systems and beyond. Khan explains that, “initially, the law of master and servant developed in a society where everyone belonged to someone or somewhere, for example, kinship, locality, religion, occupation, trade and social class.” This contributes to today’s situation where, as Professor Khan indicates, “employers’ authoritative superiority is still far greater to the rights and entitlements of employees.” The unit also discusses different types of legal contracts between employers and employees, including distinguishing between contracts of service and contracts for services.

As HRMT 322 progresses, you will delve into topics surrounding the creation of employment contracts, including the concept of freedom of hiring, contracts and legal capacities for both employers and employees, and child labour policies. You will also explore the legal requirements of employees to their employers, and likewise, you will learn about employers’ obligations towards their employed. The latter is explored in 2 units in the course; the second unit focuses on the statutory obligations of the employer, including “appreciation of the workers’ access to enforcement of statutory rights” explains Professor Khan.

Unit six explores the federal and provincial laws surrounding human rights, and how these legal implications affect the workplace. This unit also elaborates on issues of discrimination. Once you have explored human rights, you will delve into the legal aspects of employment termination, analyzing the “statutory and judicial trends” including the “…restrictions on permissible grounds for dismissal” and “…the remedies for wrongful dismissal or unjust discharge,” according to Professor Khan. In HRMT 322’s final unit, you will look at potential future trends in employment law, discussing the impacts of several key concepts including the relative powers of employers and employees, employee rights and relationships. Throughout the course, you will reinforce your learning through participation in online discussions with other AU classmates.

Your evaluation in HRMT 322 is derived from participation in online discussions (worth 15%), 5 assignments (worth 10% each), and one final exam weighted as 35%. Course author Andy Khan has served as Professor and Coordinator for Legal Studies at AU between 1996 and 2000, during which time he wrote and revised several of AU’s law courses. Professor Khan has published many articles in a wide variety of legal publications; currently, he also helps edit several law-based journals. Professor Khan has also just finished writing another AU course dealing with Labour Law in Canada, which will be offered shortly.

For more information on Employment Law in Canada (HRMT 322), you can visit: www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/hrmt/hrmt322.htm. For more information about course author Professor Khan, you can visit: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/staff/academic/andyk.htm.

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