The passing of December 31 causes many of us to consider resolutions for the New Year. What will we do differently? How will we behave better? What will change?

As employment lawyers, if we could suggest our top 5 resolutions for employers and employees for 2010, they would be:

1. Prepare written employment contracts for every employment relationship.

The good news is that we’re beginning to see people being hired again. As lawyers, we will always tell you that the way to enhance certainty in the relationship is to ensure that everything that was discussed at the beginning finds its way onto paper.

2. When writing those employment contracts, think about post-employment restrictions.

Both employers and employees should think about whether there is a need for restrictions on what an employee does (competes/solicits) after the employment relationship ends. Now is the time to set this out – not later.

3. Continue to exercise care in the termination process.

For the most part, companies seemed mindful of engaging in sensitive terminations throughout the 2009 recession. We encourage the continuation of this practice even if the number of terminations drops in 2010.

4. Pay particular attention to issues of harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Pending legislative changes in Ontario mean that employers need to be addressing bullying and violence in the workplace. Residual stress in the workplace caused by the fallout of the recession may also mean a rise in this type of behaviour.

5. Be aware of changes to the Ontario litigation system.

Changes which come into effect on January 1, 2010 are hoped to bring better access to justice and a quicker resolution of employment matters for all.