Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 Increasing Workplace Protections for Employees now in Effect

May 21, 2015 | David Tsai

Bill 18, the Stronger Workplace for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, which received royal assent on November 20, 2014, introduced significant changes to key provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) in order to strengthen protections for workers. These changes have been steadily phased in over the past several months and, effective May 20, 2015, employers must ensure that they are in compliance with the ESA’s new poster distribution and self-audit requirements.

New Poster Distribution Requirements

As of May 20, 2015, employers are now required to provide each employee with a copy of the Ministry of Labour’s most recent published employment standards poster within 30 days of an individual being hired, or, for existing employees, by no later than June 19, 2015. This new requirement does not displace the existing ESA requirement that employers must post a copy of the poster in at least one conspicuous place at the workplace.

The employment standards poster is available on the Ministry of Labour website. Employers must provide employees with a copy of the poster in English. If an employee requests a copy of the poster in a language other than English and the Ministry of Labour has published a version of the poster in that language, the employer must provide both the translated and English versions.

An employer has the option of providing the poster as a printed copy or as an attachment in an email to the employee. Employers also have the option of providing the poster via a link to the document on an internet database that employees have reasonable access to.

Self-Audits for Employers

Effective May 20, 2015, Employment Standards Officers (“ESO”) have the authority 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. Self-audits require employers to review their own records to show ESOs that they are meeting the requirements of the ESA, which include standards such as:

  • Hours of Work
  • Eating Periods
  • Public Holiday Pay
  • Wages and Overtime Pay

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.

Employers should familiarize themselves with these new changes immediately to ensure ongoing compliance with the poster distribution requirements, along with conducting a broader review of their existing practices to fully comply with Bill 18. Miller Thomson’s Labour and Employment Group would be pleased to assist you in reviewing your policies and understanding your obligations under the ESA.

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