Last year, the Ontario Government passed the Stronger Workplace for a Stronger Economy Act 2014. Every initiative within the act improves the protections afforded to employees in Ontario. As an employer, it’s important to be aware of how these changes affect your business and what you need to do to meet your obligations.  

Here’s a quick look at some of the major changes and when they came into effect.  

  • If your company frequently works with temporary help agencies, the Act now allows the client of the agency to be jointly and severally liable for any outstanding wages. Protect yourself by keeping copies of all records, retaining only reputable temporary help agencies and having clear contracts establishing liability for such circumstances. 
  • As of October 1, 2015, minimum wage in Ontario is now linked to the Consumer Price Index of Ontario (rate of inflation). As such, earlier this month minimum wage increased to $11.25 per hour from $11 per hour.  Minimum wage increases will now always be announced by April 1 every year and will be effective as of October 1 of that same year. 
  • The Act introduced self-auditing provisions, which came into effect on May 20, 2015. With this amendment, an Employment Standards Officers can require you, as an employer, to conduct an examination of the employer’s records, practices or both to determine whether you are complying with one or more of the provisions within the Act. 
  • Several new categories of unpaid workers are now covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They include high school students performing work or services under a work experience program that is sanctioned by a school board; students performing work pursuant to programs approved by their post-secondary institution; and a person receiving training from an employer but is not otherwise considered to be an employee. 

There are other changes beyond these highlights. The bottom line is that it is up to you as an employer to be aware of all of the changes to ensure that you are not unwittingly exposing yourself to liabilities and penalties. But don’t worry, if you don’t fully understand them all, we do and we can help.

 

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