A new year is a time for resolutions. This e-Lert is not
intended to impose additional pressure and new demands on already
busy professionals; it is intended to provide a checklist of best
practices and compliance obligations for 2014.
Policies: A number of HR
policies are mandatory and require consideration at least once a
year. This category includes your occupational health and
safety policy, your workplace harassment prevention policy and your
workplace violence prevention policy. Effective January 1,
2014, large private sector employers (with 50 or more employees)
join public sector employers in the requirement to have developed
and implemented an accessibility policy and a multi-year
accessibility plan. Small private sector employers have
another year to have developed and implemented their accessibility
policy; they are not obliged to prepare a multi-year accessibility
plan. Other HR policies do not require an annual review,
although we do recommend that your other HR policies, including
broader discrimination and harassment policies and vacation and
leave policies are reviewed at least every three years to ensure
ongoing compliance with changing standards.
Training: There are two new
training requirements on the horizon.
a) The first deadline is July 1, 2014,
to have implemented an occupational health and safety awareness
training program for supervisors and employees. There are a number
of mandatory topics for this training program including the duties
and rights of workers, supervisors and employers under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act; the roles of health
and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees
as well as the Ministry of Labour and the Workplace Safety and
Insurance Board in identifying and responding to common workplace
hazards; the requirements under the WHMIS regulation; and
occupational illness, including the notion of latency.
Supervisors' training must also include how to recognize,
assess and control workplace hazards; how to evaluate controls on
workplace safety; and sources of information on occupational health
b) The second deadline is January 1, 2015, for large private sector
employers to have trained employees, volunteers and contractors
providing services on accessibility and accommodation issues
pertaining to persons with disabilities. For small private sector
employers the deadline is January 1, 2016.
In addition, we recommend revisiting when you last conducted
workplace harassment, discrimination and violence prevention
training. It may very well be time to do a refresher to keep
these obligations fresh within your organization.
Contracts: There have been a
number of court decisions in the past few years that should prompt
a review of termination provisions in existing employment
agreements and offer letters. Revising the template offer
letter to reflect best practices is strongly recommended.
Where the termination provision needs to be updated for existing
employees, careful consideration is required to ensure that any
changes are enforceable later.
Compliance: Overtime and vacation pay
compliance remain perennial issues given the quirks of employment
standards legislation. If these issues haven't been
reviewed in recent years, there's no time like the present to
limit liability. This is particularly important given the
Ontario government's proposed legislation to remove the $10,000
cap on wage awards under the Employment Standards Act,
Postings: How big are your
bulletin boards? Statutory and regulatory requirements demand
the following postings:
the Ministry of Labour's "What You Should Know About
the Ontario Employment Standards Act" poster
a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
your health and safety policy
your pay equity plan
your workplace harassment and violence prevention policies
where applicable, signs about smoking areas in the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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