On December 12, 2013 CCPartners released a blog explaining the major changes to employment and labour legislation proposed in Bill 146 - Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act. Bill 146 was not able to pass second reading before the Ontario provincial election on June 12, 2014. Following the election a substantially similar piece of legislation (Bill 18) was introduced. Bill 18 passed 3rd reading on November 6, 2014 and is expected to receive royal assent in the near future. The legislation will significantly impact employers. Major changes to each piece of legislation are outlined below.
Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009 ("EPFNA)
Bill 18 will expand employment protection for foreign persons working in Ontario. The newly amended EPFNA will no longer reference "Live-in Caregivers and Others" and, therefore, will apply to all foreign nationals working in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program.
There will also be expanded obligations on the Director of Employment Standards to publish, and employers make available, information pertaining to the rights of a foreign temporary worker.
These changes will take effect one year from the date of royal assent.
Employment Standards Act, 2000
Employers will be required to provide individual copies of the Minister's informational poster to each employee. The current requirement is to post the information in the workplace. Additionally, the employer will bear the responsibility of inquiring about and obtaining translated posters if necessary.
These changes will take effect 6 months from the date of royal assent.
The minimum wage will now be tied to the Consumer Price Index (i.e. inflation) and will be adjusted on October 1 of each year. The current minimum wage in Ontario is $11/hour.
This change will take effect on the date of royal assent.
Temporary Help Agencies
Temporary help agencies and Employers who utilize workers through temporary help agencies will now be jointly required to record and retain information regarding daily and weekly hours of work. These records must be available for inspection by an Employment Standards Officer over a 3-year period.
Furthermore, the amended legislation will hold both the agency and client employer jointly and severally liable for any unpaid wages (including regular, overtime, holiday, and premium pay). Bill 18 identifies the agency as the primary responsible party for wages. However, the amendments permit workers to seek wages from the employer before exhausting all potential proceedings to recover from the agency.
These changes will take effect 1 year after the date of Royal Assent.
Bill 18 will introduce new self-audit provisions into the ESA. Employers may now be ordered to examine their own records and provide a variety of reports to an Employment Standards Officer. The order provisions provide wide power to customize the self-audit and may delineate the scope of records, types of contraventions, method of investigation, and format of the report.
This change will take effect 6 months after the date of Royal Assent.
New amendments will erase the previous $10,000 limit with respect to an order for wages to be paid to any one employee. There will be no monetary limit on Employment Standards Officer's order for wages. Additionally, an employee's window to file a complaint for unpaid wages will be extended from 6 months to 2 years.
These provisions will come into effect 3 months after Royal Assent, but will include a 2 year transition period based on claims arising before the provisions take effect.
Labour Relations Act, 1995
Bill 18 will amend the Labour Relations Act by decreasing the open period for decertification or displacement application in the Construction sector to 2-months. The previous open period was 3-months in length.
This change would take effect 6 months after Bill 18 receives Royal Assent.
Occupational Health and Safety Act
The definition of "worker" under the OHSA would be amended to expressly include several positions with no monetary compensation. The purpose of these new provisions is to include volunteers, students, unpaid interns, trainees, and other similar positions.
This change would come into force on the day Bill 18 receives Royal Assent.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997
Bill 18 will introduce a definition of "temporary help agency" which includes businesses that primarily lend or hire out the services of its workers to other employers on a temporary basis for a fee.
Bill 18 will also allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make certain regulations respecting the attribution of injury costs, and reporting requirements to temporary help agencies and the employers who use their services.
These changes will come into effect on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
As Bill 18 progresses, CCP will provide updates regarding any developments relevant to employers. The Bill is expected to receive royal assent in the near future and it is important that employers begin preparing now for the changes described above. The lawyers at CCP can advise how these provisions will affect the way you do business and ensure that you remain compliant with affected employment related legislation.
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.