Q: If we declare a discretionary bonus, do we need to pay our contract staff as well?

My company has had a pretty good year. To thank my staff for everything they’ve done for the company I’m planning on paying them a discretionary bonus as soon as my year-end financials have been wrapped up. I’m planning on giving a bonus to my permanent staff only, but my business partner is worried about excluding our contract staff. If we declare a discretionary bonus, do we need to pay our contract staff as well?

A:

Your business partner is wise to be worried about this. A general rule of thumb is that employees performing the same or similar work need to be treated the same, whether they are employed on a permanent or temporary / fixed-term basis. If you exclude them from the bonus pool you may find yourself on the receiving end of a complaint on the basis of your unfair labour practice. If you are seriously thinking about excluding them from your bonus pool rather consult a labour law specialist before making any final decisions.

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