1. To ensure that employees know their rights under the ESA, employers are required to display the Ministry of Labour “Employment Standards in Ontario” poster in their workplaces.
However, under Bill 18, employers must now provide a copy of the most recent poster to each employee, in other languages upon request (and if available) within 30 days of May 20, 2015.
To download a PDF version of the poster:
2. As of September 30, 2015, minimum wage rates will be adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index of Ontario. The Ontario government must review the minimum wage, as well as the process for adjustment before October 1, 2020 and every five years after that date. Employers should be mindful of minimum wage increases which will be announced by April 1st of each year.
3. Employment Standards Officers are now granted authority to order employers to conduct “self-audits” in order to assess their own compliance with the ESA. Employers should be aware that regardless of whether an employer reports that their workplace is in compliance with the ESA, an Employment Standards Officer may still conduct an investigation of the workplace. These provisions came into effect on May 20, 2015.
4. As of November 20, 2015 Bill 18 will introduce several changes to the “temporary help agency” provision of the ESA. Help agencies and their clients must now maintain a record of the number hours worked by each assignment employee and must ensure that these records are readily available for inspection for up to three years. Clients of help agencies are now also jointly and severally liable for any outstanding wages owed to assignment employees. After the effective date, the client of the help agency will be deemed to be the employer of the worker in a claim for unpaid wages. Employment Standards Officers can therefore issue orders against clients of the agencies in order to enforce their liability.
5. Effective February 20, 2015, the Ontario government removed the previous $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages. This essentially means that an employee will be able to recover wages that became due up to two years before the employee’s complaint was filed. Employers should be aware that under this amendment, potential liability for employers who are found to have violated the ESA relating to wages will be significantly higher.
Bill 21: Employment Standards Amendment Act (leaves to help families)
On October 29, 2014, Bill 21 came into force which enacted three new statutory leaves for employees:
What does this mean to employers?
1. Under the Family Caregiver Leave, employees are now able to take up to eight (8) weeks per year, per eligible individual of unpaid, protected leave in order to care for or support a family member with a serious medical condition. This however raises several questions employers should be aware of, including the definition of “family member” and “serious medical condition”.
Under the ESA, “family member” includes an employee's:
It is however, not clear what constitutes a “serious medical condition” under the ESA. As such, employees must provide to employers a certificate from a “qualified health practitioner” stating that a family member of the employee has a serious medical condition.
2. Similarly, in order to qualify for a 37 week Critically Ill Child Care Leave, an employee must provide their employer with a certificate from a qualified health practitioner stating that a critically ill child (under 18 years of age) requires the support or care of one or more parents.
Unlike the Family Caregiver Leave, the Critically Ill Child Care Leave certificate must include the expected duration of time the employee will require off. Employers should note that “critically ill” is defined as a child whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.
3. Finally, the Crime-Related Child Death of Disappearance Leave allows an employee to take an unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks in the unfortunate event of a crime-related death of a child and up to 52 weeks in the event of a crime-related disappearance of a child.
Under this leave, employers should note that “crime” is defined as any offence under Canada’s Criminal Code. Employers are also permitted to request “evidence reasonable in the circumstances.”
The amendments to the ESA have significantly impacted the Ontario workplace. Employers should be aware of the following:
The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) provides the minimum standards, rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees in most Ontario workplaces. It covers a wide range of areas, including the minimum requirements for employment, provisions to assist employees with family responsibilities, and the mechanisms for compliance and enforcement.
Two recent amendments to the ESA, namely the introduction of Bill 18: Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 and Bill 21: Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families) 2014 are worth a closer look.
Bill 18: Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act
Bill 18 amended several pieces of legislation including the ESA, the Labour Relations Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. The amendments to the ESA have had significant impact on employers, including the potential for increased liability in cases of non-compliance. These amendments include:
Is your business compliant with the new amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000?
Contact one of Clear Path’s consultants to discuss strategies and best practices in relation to Employment Standards, including Self-Audits.
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