November 13, 2014
Legislature Passes Significant Changes to Ontario’s Workplace Laws
On November 6th, 2014, the Ontario legislature passed the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act. As we noted in an earlier In A Flash, the act amends several of Ontario’s workplace laws.
The following list summarizes several of the most significant changes:
Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)
- Temporary help agencies and their clients are now required to record the number of hours worked by each assignment employee. These parties are now jointly and severally liable for wages owing to an assignment employee.
- Starting October 15th, 2015, Ontario’s minimum wage will be adjusted each year using a formula based on the Consumer Price Index. No adjustment of the minimum wage will be made for years in which the application of the formula would result in a decrease of the minimum wage.
- Employment Standards Officers (ESO’s) can now require employers to conduct examinations of their own records to determine compliance with the ESA and provide a report to the ESO.
- The new act removes the $10,000 cap on orders for unpaid wages and allows ESO’s to make orders for unpaid wages reaching back two years. The current limit is six months.
Labour Relations Act, 1995
- The “open period” in the construction industry has been shortened from three to two months. The open period is the only time during which a union can displace the bargaining rights of an incumbent bargaining agent and an employee can file a termination application.
Occupational Health and Safety Act
- The definition of “worker” has been expanded to include individuals performing work or services for no monetary compensation under a program approved by a college or a secondary school board and certain other individuals receiving training from an employer.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA”)
- The government now has the ability to pass regulations providing that, if a temporary help agency lends out or hires the services of a worker to another employer who participates in an experience or merit rating program, and the worker sustains an injury while performing work for the other employer, the Board must attribute the injury to the other employer.
- Regulations may also be passed stating that if an injury to a temporary help agency worker requires healthcare or results in the worker not being able to earn full wages, the client is required to notify the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of the accident within three days and can be fined for failing to do so.
The effective date of these changes varies. The amendments to the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act come into effect a year after the act receives Royal Assent, which should happen shortly. The new definition of “worker” under OHSA, as well as most of the amendments to the ESA, take effect immediately upon Royal Assent. The changes to Labour Relations Act, 1995 will come into effect six months after Royal Assent. The government has not yet announced the effective date of the changes to the WSIA.
For more information on new developments in Workplace Law, please refer to our website at: http://www.mathewsdinsdale.com/news-events/in-a-flash/
Click here for downloadable version