Earlier this year, we wrote that the Ontario government had
introduced new legislation – the
Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014
("Bill 18") – that would introduce significant
amendments to several employment-related statutes if enacted.
As it turns out, it did not take very long for Bill 18 to take
effect: on November 20, 2014, the legislation received Royal Assent
from the Lieutenant Governor, making it law. Even though some of
the amendments do not take effect right away, the changes
introduced by Bill 18 will impact all employers in Ontario.
Employers should familiarize themselves with the new laws and
adjust their workplace policies and practices accordingly.
1. Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the
The most extensive and significant changes introduced by Bill 18
are to the ESA, including the following:
Minimum Wage. As of October 2015, all minimum
wage increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index
("CPI") published annually by Statistics Canada. The new
minimum wage arising from the CPI calculation will be published by
April 1 of each year.
Unpaid Wages. Employees seeking recovery for
unpaid wages are no longer limited to a maximum recovery of $10,000
or a limitation period of six months. Bill 18 removes the maximum
entitlement and extends the recovery period to two years.
Self-Audits. Bill 18 empowers Employment
Standards Officers to order employers to conduct
"self-audits" regarding ESA compliance. Bill 18 also
imposes an obligation on employers to report and correct violations
identified by the self-audit.
Joint and Several Liability. Temporary help
agencies and their clients are now jointly and severally liable for
unpaid wages to assignment employees. Although the temporary help
agency has the primary responsibility for wage payments, assignment
employees can bring a claim for unpaid wages against the client if
the temporary help agency does not meet its obligation to the
Record Keeping. Temporary help agencies and
their clients must record the number of hours worked by each
assignment employee. These records must be maintained for three
years and be readily available for inspection.
ESA Poster. Employers must provide a copy of
the Ministry of Labour's poster to each employee within 30 days
of their start date.
2. Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the
Bill 18 amends the LRA by reducing the "open period"
for displacement applications in the construction industry
(commonly known as union raids) from three months to two months.
During the open period, representatives from unions can attempt to
increase their membership by "raiding" the members of
other unions. This change reduces the period within which employees
can seek alternate representation and may reduce the time and
resources spent on displacement application litigation.
3. Workplace Safety and Insurance Act,
1997 (the "WSIA")
Bill 18 amends the WSIA in relation to temporary help agencies
in two ways:
Liability. Where an assignment employee is
injured while working for the client of a temporary help agency,
Bill 18 shifts the full cost of the resulting compensation claim to
Reporting. Bill 18 imposes a reporting
obligation on the client (in addition to the reporting obligation
already owed by the temporary help agency) to report injuries
involving agency employees. The client must notify the Workplace
Safety and Insurance Board within three days of learning about an
injury to an assignment employee if the injury occurred while
providing services to the client.
4. Occupational Health and Safety Act (the
Bill 18 amends the definition of "worker" in the OHSA
to include persons who perform work for no compensation, including
students, interns and trainees. This change ensures that the
protections afforded by the OHSA will apply to all workers.
5. Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals
Act, 2009 (the "EPFNA")
Bill 18 extends the protections already given to live-in
caregivers under the EPFNA to other foreign nationals working or
looking for work in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign
temporary employee program. Among other things, Bill 18 requires
employers and recruiters to provide Ministry-prepared information
sheets to foreign workers, and places limits on the ability of
employers and recruiters to recover fees and other costs from
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).