Before going into the substance of my post, I wanted to
introduce myself to the readership. I started at Norton Rose
Fulbright in 2008 in Montreal and practiced as an associate until
2012. I left to lead the Employee Relations team for a major
retailer in Canada and recently returned to the practice. I'm
excited to be back "home" and to take over as one of the
Ontario's Ministry of Labour made headlines last week when they began an annual
blitz on potentially abusive employers. The purpose was to target
employers who take advantage of workers by failing to adhere to the
requirements outlined in the Employment Standards Act. The targeted
industries, according to the Ministry, include fitness and
recreation, restaurants and janitorial services. The Ministry's
goal is to hold employers accountable for
respecting employee entitlements such as minimum wage, eating
periods and overtime pay.
The crackdown comes on the heels of amendments to the Employment Standards Act that came into force
recently. The amendments, which stem from Bill 18, the Stronger
Workplaces for Stronger Economy Act, 2014, aim to protect
vulnerable Ontario workers.
Key amendments include changes to Section 111, which outlines
the amount of time an employee has to file a complaint. Previously,
an employee whose entitlements under the Act were violated could
not recover wages unless his or her complaint was made within six
months. That time limit has now been extended to two years.
Additionally, Section 3(5) now requires every employer to
provide each of his or her employees with a copy of a poster,
published by the Ministry, clearly outlining an employee's
entitlements under the law. The poster, which can be obtained here, describes the law as it relates to hours
of work, meal breaks, overtime pay, minimum wage, vacation pay,
public holidays, leaves of absence, and termination notice. The
Ministry of Labour has given employers until June 19, 2015 to make
the poster available to employees. No doubt, they'll be
checking this summer.
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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.
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