Canada: A Review Of Ontario Legislation That Expands Employer Accountability - Bill 18, Stronger Workplace For A Stronger Economy Act, 2014, Has Received Royal Assent

Last Updated: January 19 2015
Article by Laura Cassiani and André R. Nowakowski

Bill 18, the Stronger Workplace for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, which received royal assent on November 20, 2014, introduced significant change to key provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The changes will have a significant impact on employers including the potential for increased liability in cases of non compliance. Several of these changes are being phased in and several are already in effect. Key dates are highlighted in this summary. During this transition period, employers are well advised to review their existing practices to ensure compliance with all statutory requirements.

Bill 18 also introduced amendments to other employment related statutes including to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

Summary of Key Changes to the ESA

Temporary Help Agencies and Clients

Bill 18 introduced several key changes to the temporary help agency provisions of the ESA. These changes come into force on November 20, 2015 and include the following:

  • Both the temporary help agency and the client of the agency will be required to record the number of hours worked by each assignment employee in each day and each week;
  • A temporary help agency will be required to ensure that the records it is required to maintain are readily available for inspection. This applies even where the temporary help agency has retained an external party to maintain and/or retain their records. 
  • The client of a temporary help agency will be required to retain or arrange for some other person to retain the records with respect to the work of each assignment employee for three years after the day or week to which the information relates and shall ensure that these records are readily available for inspection. This applies even where the client of the agency has retained an external party to maintain and/or retain their records. 

The amendments also widen the scope of liability in cases where an employee of a temporary help agency is not paid his or her wages. The temporary help agency will be primarily responsible for paying wages to its employees. However, the ESA will now provide that a client of a temporary help agency can be held jointly and severally liable for outstanding wages owed to an assignment employee by the temporary help agency. This will apply to every client of the agency where the employee worked during the pay period in which the unpaid wages were earned. In the case of multiple assignments in such a pay period, each client may be held jointly and severally liable with the agency for a share of the total wages owed to the employee.

For purposes of these new "joint and several" liability provisions of the ESA, "wages" includes regular wages earned, overtime pay, public holiday pay and premium pay all earned during the relevant pay period. After the effective date, an employee of a temporary help agency will be able to pursue a claim for unpaid wages against a client of the agency even if the worker has not exhausted his/her options with the temporary help agency under the ESA. For the purposes of such a claim, the client of the temporary help agency will be deemed to be the employer of the worker. Employment standards officers can also issue orders against clients of the agency to enforce their liability.

No Maximum on Amount of Recovery and Retroactivity Extended

Effective February 20, 2015, the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages will be repealed. This will apply only to wages that became due after February 20, 2015. The $10,000 cap will remain for all claims for wages that become due before February 20, 2015.

The time limits on the recovery of wages were also amended. Effective February 20, 2015, an employee will be able to recover wages that became due up to two years before the employee's complaint was flied or, in the case of an inspection, before the ESO commenced the inspection (as opposed to six months). This will apply to all types of unpaid wages, including vacation pay. If, however, some or all of these wages became due to the employee before February 20, 2015, the ESO may not issue an order for wages that became due before that day if they became due more than six months before the complaint was filed or inspection was commenced. In the case of repeated violations, however, the time period is 12 months before February 20, 2015. In the case of vacation pay, the time period is 12 months before February 20, 2015.

Under this new regime, the potential liability for employers who are found to have violated the ESA provisions relating to wages will be significantly higher.

Self-audits for Employers

The ESA now empowers an Employment Standards Officer ("ESO") to order an employer to conduct a "self-audit" upon written notice and to report any findings of that self-audit process as requested to the ESO.

If the employer identifies non-wage related contraventions of the ESA during a self-audit, the employer is required to advise the ESO of the steps that the employer has taken or will take to comply with the ESA. The ESO may still issue an order to pay wages or direct compliance with the ESA if the ESO believes it is appropriate to do so in the circumstances. Significantly, even if an employer reports that it is in compliance with the ESA, the ESO can still conduct an inspection or investigation of the workplace to determine whether or not the employer has complied with the ESA.

These self-audit provisions come into force on May 20, 2015.


In addition to posting the Minister's most recent published poster in at least one conspicuous place at the workplace as is currently required, employers will now be required to also provide each employee with a copy of the poster within 30 days of an individual being hired, or, for existing employees, within 30 days of May 20, 2015 (the date in which changes regarding poster requirements come into force).

Indexing of Minimum Wage

The prescribed minimum wage rates will remain in place until September 30, 2015. After that date, the minimum wage rates will be adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index of Ontario. The changes prohibit any decrease in the minimum wage rates. In addition, the government is required to review the minimum wage and the process for adjusting the minimum wage before October 1, 2020 and every five years after that date.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

As a result of Bill 18, the definition of "worker" under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is now amended to specifically include the following unpaid individuals:

  • a secondary school student performing work or services under a school board authorized work experience programme;
  • a person performing work or services under a college, university, or other post-secondary institution approved programme;
  • a person who receives training from an employer but is not an employee under section 1(2) of the ESA as having met the "person receiving training" conditions; and
  • any person who is prescribed by regulation.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

Bill 18 amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 by adding and defining the term "temporary help agency". For purposes of the WSIA, a temporary help agency will be 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." The Bill empowers the government to make certain regulations with respect to, among other things, allocation of employee injury and accident costs to the client of a temporary agency; deeming wages paid by the temporary help agency to the worker for work performed for the client would be deemed to be paid by the client; and the client of a temporary help agency's notification obligations in the event of a workplace injury or accident.

These provisions are to come in to force at a date which is yet to be proclaimed. It remains to be seen what regulations, if any, the government will pass as a result.

Labour Relations Act, 1995

Bill 18 amends the construction industry provisions of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 by providing for, in certain cases, a two-month "open" period during which a union may apply to certify a group of employees already represented. It also amends the Act by provide a two-month "open" period during which employees may apply for a declaration that a union no longer represents the employees in certain cases. These changes become effective May 20, 2015.

Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals, 2009

Prior to Bill 18, the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals, 2009 was generally restricted to live-in caregivers. As a result of Bill 18, the legislation will now apply to foreign nationals who are working or are attempting to find work in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee programme.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Laura Cassiani
André R. Nowakowski
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
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).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.