Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 passed third reading on November 6, 2014 and will soon receive royal assent to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in caregivers and others), 2009, the Occupational Health & Safety Act, the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. A summary of the key changes is set out below:
Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000
$10,000 Cap Removed
The $10,000 limit in wages that an Employment Standards Officer can order will be removed so that there will be no limit to what an Employment Standards Officer can order a company to pay to an employee.
Limitation period – 2 Years
The current 6 month limitation period will be increased to 2 years to permit a complaint to the Ministry of Labour unpaid wages such as:
- regular wages
- overtime pay
- public holiday pay
- premium pay
Temporary Help Agencies – Employer Liability – Record Keeping
Employers will be jointly liable with temporary help agencies to pay assignment employees for unpaid wages such as regular wages, overtime pay, public holiday pay, and premium pay.
Agencies will also be required to record the number of hours worked by each assignment employee for each client of the agency in each day and each week and to retain these records for at least 3 years.
An Employment Standards Officer may require an employer to conduct an examination or self audit of their own records, practices or both to determine whether the employer is in compliance with one or more provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The employer would be required to report the result of the examination or self audit to the Ministry of Labour as follows:
- whether the employer has complied with this Act or the regulations
- whether one or more employees are owed wages with the requirement to pay wages if the employer assesses that one or more employees are owed wages
- if the employer’s report includes an assessment that the employer has not complied with this Act or the regulations but no employees are owed wages as a result of the failure to comply, the employer shall include in the report a description of the measures that the employer has taken or will take to ensure that this Act or the regulations will be complied with
- if the employer’s report includes an assessment that one or more employees are owed wages, the employer shall include in the report:
- the name of every employee who is owed wages and the amount of wages owed to the employee
- an explanation of how the amount of wages owed to the employee was determined
- proof of payment of the amount owed to the employee
Provide ESA, 2000 Poster
Every employer will be required to provide each new employee with the most recent poster published by the Ministry of Labour (or translations if requested by the employee) within 30 days of commencement of employment.
Adjustments will also be made to minimum wage in accordance with the formula and the consumer price index. No later than April 1st of each year the Minister of Labour will publish the minimum wages that apply effective October 1st of that year.
Changes to Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in caregivers and others), 2009
The application of the Act will be expanded to apply to:
- Every foreign national who, pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program, is employed in Ontario or is attempting to find employment in Ontario
- Every person who employs a foreign national in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program
- Every person who acts as a recruiter in connection with the employment of a foreign national in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program
- Every person who acts on behalf of an employer or a recruiter
Before commencing employment employers and recruiters are required to provide foreign nationals with a copy of information published by the Ministry of Labour about the rights and obligations under this Act of:
- foreign nationals who are employed or who are attempting to find employment
- employers of foreign nationals
- persons acting as recruiters in connection with the employment of foreign nationals
An employer who employs a foreign national at the time of the Act coming into force must give the employee a copy of the information published by the Ministry of Labour.
Changes to Labour Relations Act, 1995
In the construction industry the Act will establish a two-month open periods during which a trade union may apply to the Board for certification as bargaining agent of any employees in a bargaining unit. Construction employees also have a two-month open period to apply to the Board for a declaration that a trade union no longer represents the employees in a bargaining unit.
Changes to Occupational Health & Safety Act
The definition of “worker” will be expanded to include:
- a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation
- secondary school students who perform work or supply services under authorized work experience programs, even if they do not receive monetary compensation
- a person who performs work or supplies services under a program approved by a College, University or other post-secondary institution, even if he or she does not receive monetary compensation
- a trainee who under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 is not considered an employee
- any other prescribed person performing work or supplying services for no monetary compensation
Changes to Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997
“Temporary help agency” is now included in the definition section and defined as an employer who primarily engages in the business of lending or hiring out the services of its workers to other employers on a temporary basis for a fee. In certain circumstances a worker who sustains an injury while performing work for the other employer can result in the other employer being responsible for the injury and the accident costs.
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