On November 14, 2017, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures) 2017. The omnibus Bill proposes to amend 45 separate statutes. On November 30, 2017, the Bill passed second reading and is now before the standing committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Most notably from the standpoint of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), Schedule 30 of the Bill seeks to implement, among other smaller amendments, often discussed and long awaited changes to the allowable maximum fines under the OHSA. Under section 66, the OHSA currently provides for a maximum fine upon conviction … Continue Reading
Last week, we reported on the Government of Ontario’s release of the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report, which comprehensively reviewed Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the “LRA”). Today, the Government of Ontario announced its intention to introduce The Fair Workplace, Better Jobs Act, 2017 in response to the 173 recommendations provided by the Final Report.
Notably, the Government of Ontario has proposed several changes that were either not among the recommendations put forward in the Final Report or that substantially diverge from the Final Report’s 173 recommendations, including:
- Increasing the general minimum wage
Last year’s Ontario Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) compliance blitz reveals that employers are having difficulty maintaining basic employment standards. From May 1 to July 31, 2015, the MOL conducted a series of workplace inspections which focused on compliance with core elements of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). The inspections targeted mainly sectors that employ “vulnerable or precarious workers” where the nature of employment is seasonal, part-time or temporary. The results do not trend well:
- Of the 304 workplace inspections conducted by the Ministry, 232 (or 76%) employers were found not compliant with the ESA.
- Over $361,000 was
Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, has received royal assent and is now the law. As we have previously reported, this Bill significantly amends workplace laws, including the Employment Sandards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), the Labour Relations Act (“LRA”) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (“WSIA”)
Some of the major changes include:
- Linking minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index. The Government would publish the new minimum wage arising from the formula by April 1st of each year.
- Eliminating the $10,000 cap on claims for unpaid
Lately, unpaid interns have been on the Ministry of Labour’s radar. In June 2013 a policy statement was published which reminded employers that most unpaid internships run afoul of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). I wrote about this policy statement in a previous post.
In April 2014, arising out of a few high profile incidents involving the Walrus and Toronto Life magazine, the Ministry announced an enforcement “blitz” meant to determine whether unpaid interns in certain sectors of the economy were truly “interns” and therefore exempt from the ESA. The results of that “blitz” have now been published… Continue Reading
A Ministry of Labour (“Ministry”) inspection is never a pleasant experience for employers. Ministry inspectors have very broad powers to enter the workplace and inspect company documents to ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) or the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). Sometimes these inspections are random. Sometimes they are initiated by an employee/union complaint. Most of the time, an employer is not aware or ready for an inspection.
Even though the Ministry has these powers, sometimes even a management lawyer has to give them credit. I say this because recently the Ministry of Labour has been … Continue Reading
The Walrus and Toronto Life, two high profile Canadian magazines, recently shut down their internship programs after a Ministry of Labour investigation concluded that the programs contravened the Ontario Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”). The Ministry issued compliance orders for violations of several standards, including a failure to pay the interns minimum wage. Canadian Geographic and Rogers Publishing have since followed suit, also ending their unpaid internship programs.
The news will likely be filled with similar stories over the next few months as the Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced that it is conducting an employment standards … Continue Reading
On December 4, 2013, the Ontario government introduced Bill 146, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2013. Bill 146 implements some of the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission of Ontario that submitted a report on vulnerable workers.
Although the bill has just been introduced, if it passes through the legislature and then receives royal assent, it will have a significant impact on workplace regulation in Ontario. Some of the key proposed changes (which are summarized in detail here) include the following:… Continue Reading
The Ontario Government has introduced a regulation to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that would mandate that employers provide health and safety awareness training to all workers and supervisors effective July 1, 2014.… Continue Reading
The weather is getting colder, the holidays are approaching and flu season is soon to be upon us. That means sick employees forced to miss work. Besides ensuring that productivity does not suffer, employers also need to be cognizant of their legal obligations towards their employees during flu season. Here are a few important points to keep in mind:… Continue Reading
The Ministry of Labour (MOL) conducts inspections to ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The MOL targets employers in (as they put it) “sectors where there is a history of employment standards violations and where vulnerable workers are employed.” Thankfully, at least the MOL announces the targeted sector so that employers can prepare. This time, the target is the retail industry.
The “blitz” (as the MOL terms it) will take place from October – December 2013 and will deal with such issues as record keeping, deductions from pay, hours of work, eating periods, overtime pay, minimum wage, … Continue Reading
This post was featured among the Top 10 in Law Blogs on July 11, 2013 by Kevin O’Keefe.
In a recent case, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found that a Facebook posting about a co-worker’s Mexican heritage was prohibited workplace harassment under the Human Rights Code.
It is a fact of life for some entering the labour market – the unpaid internship. For young workers, it is an opportunity to gain experience in a desired field. For employers, it is an opportunity to have recent graduates perform necessary work or apprenticeship at less cost all while assessing suitability for continued employment. Perhaps the modern internship is best explained by the following:
The Ministry of Labour has recently come out with an animated (and fairly entertaining) video on employee deductions titled Illegal Deductions from Wages.
The MOL stresses that deductions from employee wages are not allowed except in “specific circumstances”. While this is helpful in reinforcing the general rule that deductions from employee pay are generally restricted under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), it is important to remember what these “specific circumstances” entail.… Continue Reading
On April 3, 2013, the Law Reform Commission of Ontario released a report (all 176 pages), Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work: Final Report – December 2012. The report is, in essence, a policy-heavy document reflecting the Commission’s views on how the Ontario government can better “respond to the challenges faced by vulnerable workers.” The Commission came up with a list of 47 “recommendations” dealing with legislative and policy reform of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
What is striking about the report (and what employers should be concerned about) is that … Continue Reading