Ontario Government Makes Major Changes to Workplace Laws

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 wages.
  • Replacing the 6 month and 12 month time limitation for claiming unpaid wages by a single 2 year time limit for all wage claims.
  • Requring employers to provide the Ministry of Labour's poster on the ESA to every employee.
  • Allowing the Ministry of Labour to order employers to engage in a "self audit" for the purposes of determining ESA compliance.
  • Making temporary help agencies and employers who use such agencies jointly and severally liable for wage claims from temporary workers.
  • Shifting the experience rating costs for WSIB purposes to the employer who uses temporary labour.  Also, reporting obligations to the WSIB would apply to both the temporary agency and the client.
  • Expanding the definition of "worker" under OHSA to apply to unpaid labour, like "interns" and certain school placement workers.
  • Reducing the "open period" during which a displacement or decertification application could be brought from 3 months to 2 months.

Although some of these provisions will not take effect immediately, all employers should be aware of these significant new changes and alter their workplace policies and practices accordingly.

A more detailed summary of these changes can be found here.

Bill 18 Consumer Price Index Employment Standards Act Labour Relations Act Ministry of Labour Occupational Health and Safety Act OHSA Ontario Ontario Government Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Toronto Workplace Safety and Insurance Act WSIB



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