Legal considerations

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  1. Compliance to Human Rights Legislation

To ensure legal compliance, a systematic and non-discriminatory process should be a company policy for recruiting and selecting qualified applicants to fill job vacancies. It is essential that the criteria used throughout the recruitment and selection process are based on the principle that employment decisions are made on the applicant’s ability to do the job. Each applicant has the right to equal treatment when going through a company’s recruitment and selection process. The Canadian Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment on the grounds of:

Race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status and records of offence.”1
All documentation i.e. the application form, remarks on resumes and cover letters, answers to interview questions, completion of interview assessment form or answers on reference check forms should make reference only to the applicant’s job related qualifications, experience, and past job performance.
As of February 1, 2013, The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has introduced a policy to remove barriers in employment for newcomers to Canada.2 An employer must ensure that its recruitment/hiring practices and job descriptions including accreditations required do not present any barriers for newcomer applicants. For example, on an application form under ‘Work History’ it cannot asked for the locations of the companies the applicant previously worked for as that would disclose the country, which could create a bias against the applicant. What is relevant is the positions the applicant held and duties within those positions.
The recruitment process must only use a job competency based process for assessing a candidate’s eligibility for the job. Employers cannot require applicants to have prior work experience in Canada to be eligible for a particular job. When advertising a job posting an employer cannot ask for Canadian work experience only.
“The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for ‘Canadian experience’ is discriminatory on its face and can only be used in limited circumstances. The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement based on the legal test set out for this policy.” 3

  1. Application Form

It is standard procedure for applicants to submit a cover letter and resume for a job positing. If a decision is made to interview an applicant, it is recommended that the applicant completes an application form, which provides additional job related information. Appendix I:’ Permissible and Non-permissible Questions in an Application Form’ not only guides what an employer can ask on a job application form but also can be used when preparing interview questions.

Appendix II is a sample of an Application Form provided by the Human Rights Commission as a guide that meets legislative standards.

  1. Job Descriptions and National Occupational Classifications (NOC) 2011

  1. Purpose of a Job Description

A well-constructed job description is an excellent communication tool that can be used in:

  • Recruitment to develop the job posting and to screen qualified applicants based on the duties and qualifications outlined in the job description ;

  • Selection to design interview questions; reference check questions; and a hiring criterion.

With respect to recruitment and selection, the benefits of developing and keeping job descriptions up to date are:

  • Ensures that hiring decisions focus on the job requirements by using the job description as an objective ‘measuring stick’ when assessing the applicant’s suitability;

  • Focuses interviewer on asking interview questions that will uncover if the applicant can do the job;

  • Gives the applicant realistic information on the accountabilities, responsibilities, and working conditions.

  1. Writing a Job Description

A job description describes the purpose of the job, the essential duties and responsibilities, qualifications, and working conditions. It is the touch stone for a variety of Human Resources functions that range from recruitment and selection, orientation, training, salary administration, and training. Although they are time consuming to develop and at times there is a cost factor, companies cannot effectively manage their employees without having good ones in place.

This section provides information on developing a basic job description using the NOC 2011guide ‘Job Descriptions: An Employers’ Handbook’4. It needs to be noted that when developing comprehensive job descriptions, a job analysis is usually the first step in the process. Conducting a job analysis requires a subject matter expert and is a complicated and time intensive process. Companies would normally contract this function to specialists and therefore is not covered within the scope of this Toolkit.
An excellent resource available to employers to develop job descriptions is the NOC 2011 as the job descriptions are based on research and interviews with workers, employers, and specialists. NOC can be accessed at The jobs are divided into ‘occupational groups’ and each group contains the following information: example titles; main duties; and employment requirements.

  • Accessing Landscape Horticultural Groups in NOC

    On the ‘Main Page’ of the NOC website:

    • Click on Search NOC (first title on right hand side)

    • Select search by ‘index of titles’

    • Select method: select the one that best helps you find the job

A template for writing a job description can be found in Appendix III, Appendix IV gives a sample job description for a Landscape Designer, Appendix V gives a sample job description for a Landscape and Horticulture Technician, Appendix VI gives a sample of a job description for a Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance Labourer, and Appendix VII gives a sample job description for a Nursery and Greenhouse Worker.

Landscape Horticultural Occupational Groups
Landscape Ontario website gives an overview of the landscape horticultural occupation groups in NOC 2011: The NOC should also be used when writing job description to reflect proper job titles and when completing a Record of Employment (ROI) when an employee leaves the company. This assists individuals having to take low skilled or wrong skill jobs when unemployed during the off-season or when laid off.

NOC Code

Occupation Group


Landscape Architects

Landscape Architect

Landscape Planner


Landscape and Horticultural Technicians and Specialists:


Golf Course Superintendent


Horticultural Technician

Horticultural Specialist


Hydroponics Technician

Landscape Architectural Technician

Landscape Designer

Landscape Technician


Landscape Gardener

Lawn Care Specialist

Tree Service Technician


Nursery and Greenhouse Workers:

Forest Nursery Worker

Greenhouse Worker

Horticulture Worker

Hothouse Worker

Hydroponics Worker

Nursery Worker


Managers in Horticulture:

Christmas Tree Farm Operator

Flower Grower

Greenhouse Manager

Greenhouse Operator

Nursery Manager

Nursery Operator

Plant Grower – Nursery


Contractors and Supervisors, Landscaping, Ground Maintenance and Horticulture Services

Greenhouse Supervisor

Grounds Maintenance Contractor

Groundskeeping Supervisor

Horticulture Workers Supervisor

Interior Plantscaping Contractor

Landscape Contractor

Landscape Foreman/woman

Landscape Supervisor

Lawn Care Contractor

Nursery Foreman/woman

Park Maintenance Supervisor

Tree Service Contractor


Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance Labourers:

Bulb Planter

Cemetery Labourer

Gardening Helper

Golf Course Worker

Grass Cutter

Grounds Maintenance Worker

Landscape Labourer

Maintenance Worker, Parks

Sod Layer



Retail Sales Supervisor:

Garden Centre/Nursery Supervisor


Retail Salespersons

Garden Centre Salesperson

III. Attracting Job Applicants

  1. Employer Branding: The Secret to Attracting Applicants

Attracting individuals who fit your philosophy of work ethic and customer service and who possess the technical and soft skills to do the job is a tough undertaking in today’s hotly competitive labour market. So how can a company set themselves apart from competitors to appeal to that good calibre of applicants? Compensation and benefits are an important factor but as important to applicants is:

Will this company be a good place to work?”

Will this company be around two years from now?”

Will I get training so I can continue to develop my skills?”
Employer branding is a “company tag that places the image of a ‘good place to work’ or ‘employer of choice’ in the minds of job applicants.”5 Using a ‘brand’ message in your job posting can assist in drawing those applicants who identify with your values to respond.
An employer brand message answers the question: “Why should someone work for my company instead of a competitor?” It sends a clear message of what it’s like to work for your company.
Answers to the following questions can assist you in developing your brand statement:

  • Who do I want to attract?

  • Why would someone want to work for my company?

  • What do our customers say about who we are as a company?

  • Why do employees like working for us?

  • What are the exciting future possibilities for employees within our company?

Branding is a deliberate message about the company that appeals to the emotions. For example, “PepsiCo promotes the tag line ‘PepsiCo – Taste the Success!” to applicants to convey the excitement about its combination of powerful brands, passion for growth, culture of shared principles, commitment to results, ability to make an impact, and quality people..... “Employer branding is not just an initiative for big companies, because everyone can (and does) develop a reputation. Ask a landscaper about three local lawn service companies and he’ll tell you the differences amongst them – this one says you’ll work with the best crew chiefs; that one says it pleases every customer every time and the third one creates a fun work environment so employees want to come to work.”6

  1. Advertising

Creating a job posting
A job posting is a factual description of the experience, education and skills required to do the job. That information in itself will not necessarily entice applicants to submit their resumes. As in any form of written communication the first few sentences catch the reader’s attention to want to read more information. The difference between a successful job posting that attracts qualified candidates and a job posting that attracts few is the effort put into ‘promoting’ the benefits of working for the company. A job posting is comprised of three sections: (1) information about the organization, (2) information about the position, and (3) how to submit a resume.

  1. Information about the company: this section is the attention grabber and should describe your company in ‘colourful’ and action oriented words. Information about why the company is a good place to work and what employees like about it (i.e. team oriented, flexible, opportunity to learn new skills, etc.) is highlighted. An attraction feature is stating any opportunities for career development or advancement or if the company is going through some positive changes and growth.

  2. Information about the job: using the job description, describe the roles and responsibilities of the job and the working conditions. Be realistic in describing the work conditions as it will discourage applicants who, for example, do not want to work in extreme weather conditions from applying for the job. Information about educational and skill requirements need to be included and could be stated as ‘prerequisites for the job’ or ‘highly preferably for the job’.

  3. How to submit a resume: applicants are advised how you would like them to submit their resume i.e. online, email or mail. An application deadline is also included and a statement on how you will handle resumes i.e. “all resumes are appreciated but only those applicants selected for an interview will be contacted”.

A sample job posting for a Landscape Technician can be found in Appendix VIII.

Recruitment Resources
For many companies deciding where to invest advertising dollars is a dilemma and the guarantee of attracting qualified applicants is nebulous. Using a variety of methods is a better approach than putting ‘all your eggs in one basket’ and works more effectively when your hiring needs are immediate.
Your employees: If you have a good reputation as a fair employer and have created a positive work environment, your employees will be an great resource to go out into the community and publicize that your company is hiring. Offering an employee referral bonus is an excellent way to source out qualified individuals as employees know what it takes to succeed and they understand the company culture so tend to refer suitable candidates. Referral bonuses are usually set up so that the employee who did the referral does not get the bonus till after the individual who was referred passes his or her three month probationary period.
Resume Database: creating a database where you create folders by job title and store qualified resumes for up to a year can help reduce hiring time when suitable positions come available.
Network: Although the working days in the landscape and horticulture industry are long and as an owner you juggle both working in the business and managing the business, investing time in developing your network is vital. If you have a vibrant network, a good candidate can be an email away. Networking opportunities could include:

  • Joining a networking group where you can promote your business and use as a job applicant referral source;

  • Joining trade associations and becoming active members i.e. Landscape Ontario, Canadian Nursery and Landscaping Association, etc.;

  • Using LinkedIn -;

  • Actively participating in local Chamber of Commerce ;

  • Setting up an informal meeting with other business owners to meet on a quarterly basis to share ideas and support.

Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook open up great opportunities for sourcing qualified candidates. It seems daunting and time consuming for small business owners to market themselves on social media sites but one needs to go where the candidates are – social media. Think creatively how you can access this huge candidate marketplace:

  • If you don’t twitter, ask employees who do to tweet your job openings. Ensure that you have a Social Media Policy for employees and that they understand that they have to be professional as they represent you. An example of a Social Media Policy can be found at;

  • High school students have to do community hours. Hire a tech savvy student to manage your social media;

  • Hire a co-op student from a Community College Communications Program;

  • Post your job openings on LinkedIn and join LinkedIn Groups that will connect you with potential candidates;

  • Pay for advertising on Facebook; create a job posting and share it with a target audience.

On-line Job Boards: posting positions on Internet job sites is a common practice as a high majority of people looking for a job will use the Internet as their primary search method. The following are a sampling of the Internet sites available:

Landscape Ontario Job Board

Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (members only)


GoodWork Canada: Canada’s Green Job Site



Service Canada Job Bank





Kijiji Ontario

High School Counselling Centres, Colleges, Universities and Placement Offices: educational counselling or placement centres could advertise your job openings to interns, those seeking co-op placements and new graduates. Developing a relationship with counsellors is a long term recruiting strategy. As they get to know your company they will refer suitable applicants on an ongoing basis.

1 Adapted from: Canadian Human rights Code:

2 OHRC: ‘Policy on Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier:

3 OHRC: ‘Policy on Removing the “Canadian experience” barrier:

4 Human Resources and Social Development Canada. ‘ Job Descriptions: An Employers’ Handbook’

5 Herbert G. Heneman III, Timothy A. Judge, Vicky Smith, Russel Summers, ‘Staffing Organizations: Recruitment and Selection in Canada’. McGraw-Hill Ryerson: 2007

6 Adapted from the book Finding Keepers: The Monster Guide to Hiring and Holding the World’s Best Employees by Steve Pogorzelski, Jesse Harriott, Ph.D., and Doug Hardy. Published January 2008 by McGraw-Hill. ‘The Employer Brand Experience:

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