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Posts tagged: Employment Standards

Recent Changes to the Employment Standards Act – Part I

By , February 5, 2018 10:00 am

Trying to learn and apply the many recent changes to the Employment Standards Act to your workplace can be a daunting task. We are trying to make the process less intimidating by introducing the changes to you a few at a time.

This blog discusses five of the many changes that were made to Ontario’s employment standards legislation as a result of Bill 148

1.Every employee, including a part-time employee, with at least one week service is entitled to take 10 personal emergency days each year and the first two days are paid. An employee can take this leave for a personal illness, injury or medical emergency for themselves or certain family members, or to deal with an urgent matter for themselves or certain family matters. 

2. A pregnant employee can now take up to an 18 month unpaid leave of absence. This change came into effect about the same time that federal employment insurance legislation was amended to permit employees to collect employment insurance benefits over 18 months.

3. The new way to calculate statutory holiday pay is as follows: the total amount of regular wages earned in the pay period immediately preceding the public holiday, divided by the number of days the employee worked in this period. This new calculation will translate into an increase in statutory holiday pay for many part-time employees. There are currently nine paid statutory holidays under the Employment Standards Act. Make sure you use this calculation for Family Day.

4. An employee with at least three months service can request a change in work schedule or work location. The employer must either grant the request or provide reasons for denying the request. This law is subject to an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee on the basis of disability, family status or any other ground prescribed under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

5. As of April 1, 2018, a part-time employee must receive the same rate of pay as a full-time employee when they perform substantially the same kind of work, their performance requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility, and when their work is performed under similar working conditions unless an exemption applies.

For a more comprehensive summary of the Bill 148 changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, click here. 

For 30 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

 

Doug’s Year End Rant

By , December 19, 2017 8:46 am

Earlier this week I concluded that the rule of law no longer applies in many Ontario workplaces. The epiphany hit me when I was meeting with the Managing Director of a boutique law firm.

When I use the expression “rule of law” I mean the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced.

The fact is many employers are unaware of many of the laws that apply to them, and the Ontario government is not enforcing many of them.

You would think that a law firm would be aware of the laws that apply to it but the reality is that most small and medium size law firms do not have a dedicated HR person and do not have an employment lawyer on staff.

Here are some of the employment laws that apply to a small firm:

As of December 31, 2017 the Law Society of Upper Canada  – soon to be the Law Society of Ontario – requires: all lawyers to adopt a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and: all law firms with 10 or more lawyers to develop a human rights/diversity policy dealing with recruitment, retention and promotion. There is much uncertainty relating to the required contents of these documents.

As of December 31, 2017 an employer with 20 or more employees must file a compliance report under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”). By 2015 about 65 % of employers had not complied with the 2012 reporting obligation. In addition, nine new obligations were imposed on small employers under AODA earlier this year including the obligation to notify job applicants that accommodations for disabilities will be provided on request.  

On November 22, 2017 the government passed a myriad of significant changes to Ontario’s employment standards law. Some of the changes became effective immediately and many of the changes will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Although a law firm office is not a particularly dangerous place to work, all employees are required to receive mandatory health & safety awareness training under the Occupational Health & Safety Act and mandatory customer service training under AODA. In addition,  employers with more than 5 employees must prepare, post & review annually a health & safety policy, a workplace harassment policy, and a workplace violence policy. Furthermore, all employers are required to appoint a trained investigator to investigate an incident of workplace harassment, and the employer must have a written complaint and investigation process. The employee need not file a complaint; the obligation is to investigate incidents and formal complaints. If not, the Ministry of Labour can appoint an external investigator at the employer’s expense. 

The list of new obligations that have been imposed on Ontario employers in recent years goes on and on.

You would think a small or medium sized law firm would know about all of its legal obligations and comply with them but I doubt all or even most of these law firms are in compliance.

When reputable, well intentioned small to medium size law firms do not follow the rule of law how can we expect less knowledgeable employers to do so.

So I ask the Ontario government: Will you stop introducing new laws that are not being followed or being enforced, and start educating employers on their obligations? When this education process is complete will you start enforcing these laws?

For over 30 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

Is Your Organization Compliant with AODA? It Should Be. Here’s Why

By , November 27, 2017 5:29 pm

Did you know that employers with 20 or more employees are required to file a report with the Ontario government confirming they have complied with their obligations under the Accessibility with Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) by December 31, 2017?

Employment Standard

This regulation under AODA applies to all employers. It  requires an employer to comply with at least nine (9) new obligations such as notifying job applicants that, where needed, accommodations for disabilities will be provided, on request.

Employers with 50 or more employees have two additional obligations including the duty to prepare a written individual accommodation plan for every disabled employee who has requested an accommodation for a disability.

Customer Service

This regulation under AODA requires all employers to, among other things, provide customer service training to employees.

An employer with 50 or more employees is required to prepare written customer service accessibility policies.

Multi Year Accessibility Plan

An employer with 50 or more employees is required to  establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan. This plan outlines the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation.

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

Many employers are not aware of their obligations under AODA, and have therefore not complied with them, and do not know about the obligation to inform the Ontario government that they have complied with their obligations under AODA by December 31, 2017.

Fixed Fee AODA Compliance Service

The MacLeod Law Firm has developed a fixed fee service that will get an employer into compliance with AODA before the December 31, 2017 reporting deadline. A description of this service is found here

If you have questions about this service, please contact Nadia Halum at [email protected], or Doug MacLeod at 416 317-9894.

For 30 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

Common Employment Law Issues

By , February 23, 2016 8:38 am

I speak with human resources professionals every day about various employment law issues. This blog deals with five of the most common issues that arise in my practice.

Termination Pay

In many organizations, labour costs often account for more than 50% of the cost of doing business. Reducing head count is one way to reduce labour costs. I am often asked how to minimize the termination costs associated with an employee termination. There are many factors that an employment lawyer can take into account. In my experience, the more lead time you provide your employment lawyer about a potential termination the better. I have written about employee termination in earlier blogs.

Employment Contracts

Not all employment contracts are created equal. If you are using an employment contract you obtained on the internet then you likely are getting what you paid for. I strongly recommend that every new hire be required to sign a properly drafted employment contract with an enforceable termination clause. It is an extremely powerful management tool and can significantly reduce your termination costs. Given changes in statute law and the common law, I suggest that you review your employment contract every year or two. Did you know that Ontario courts have recently concluded that certain termination clauses are not enforceable and in wrongful dismissal actions employees are routinely claiming their termination clause is not enforceable? I have written about employment contracts in earlier blogs.

Accommodating Disabled Employees

Over the last 2 or 3 years, I would say this is the fastest growing area in employment law – particularly employees with mental disabilities. On January 1, 2016 the Employment Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act took effect. Among other things, it requires certain employers to prepare individual accommodation plans for an employee who seeks accommodation. In addition, I am seeing many human rights complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of mental disability. .I have written about disabled employees in earlier blogs.

An Employer’s Obligations under the Employment Standards Act Vis a Vis the Common Law

Many small employers think the Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out its only obligations toward employees. For example, an employer is required to provide a minimum amount of notice of termination to employees under the ESA but unless an employee has signed a contract with an enforceable termination clause then the employee is generally entitled to “reasonable” notice of termination which is almost always more than the ESA minimums. Similarly, an employer is entitled to temporarily lay off an employee under the ESA but unless the employee has agreed that an employer has the right to temporarily lay her off in her employment contract then this kind of layoff is generally an employee termination which requires notice of termination. I have written about the ESA in earlier blogs.

Harassment Complaints

There are two kinds of harassment complaints. One is harassment under the Ontario Human Rights Code, such as sexual harassment. The other is workplace harassment under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. There are different obligations and legal exposure for each type of complaint. Accordingly, I suggest a different response to each kind of complaint. I do however recommend that an employer take all “harassment” complaints seriously and investigate them promptly. I have written about harassment complaints in earlier blogs.

 

For more than 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

Employment Law Trends in Ontario

By , December 29, 2015 10:42 am

Employment Law Trends in Ontario

In this blog I will reflect on two employment law trends that are developing in Ontario and outline how the MacLeod Law Firm is responding to these trends.

Ontario’s Workplaces are More Regulated than Ever Before

I advise small to medium size employers on a daily basis. Margins are often tight and resources are usually limited. Ontario employers are increasingly competing against companies operating in unregulated labour markets. Against this backdrop, there is increasing government regulation.

In Ontario, the Kathleen Wynne government has introduced and implemented many changes to the province’s employment laws. Payroll taxes continue to increase, new mandatory training has been introduced in a number of areas, and the definition of an “employee” has been expanded to include non-traditional employees such as volunteers and contractors. The government is currently holding public consultations on changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. And more changes are coming: a new mandatory pension system is expected in 2017 which is in addition to the CPP, and employers will be required to investigate all sexual harassment “incidents” under Bill 132.

Ontario Employers Are Not Aware of the New Employment Laws

In my experience, many small and medium size employers are simply not aware of some of these new employment laws.

For example, news reports suggest that over 65 % of Ontario businesses have not complied with a regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) that took effect 2012.

Did you know that as of July 1, 2014 almost every Ontario employer should have provided mandatory health and safety training to all employees? My guess is that less than 25% of employees who work for small and medium size employers have received this training.

Furthermore, one of the 2015 amendments to the Employment Standards Act requires employers to provide a poster to employees which educates them on their rights under that law. My guess is that less than 25% of employees who work for small and medium size employers have received a copy of this poster.

Our legal system is built on the rule of law which means we must obey the laws of the land and that ignorance of the law is no defense to non-compliance with a law.

I am concerned the rule of law is breaking down in Ontario as it relates to employment laws because small and medium size employers simply cannot keep track of all the employment laws.

The MacLeod Law Firm Keeps Employers Up to Date on New Employment Laws

Every two weeks, I write a blog about changes to Ontario’s employment laws. Some of the changes are introduced by the Ontario government. Some of the changes are as a result of court decisions. I encourage you to subscribe to our blog so you can keep up to date on changes to Ontario’s employment laws.

For my blog on the top 10 employment stories of 2015, click here.

The MacLeod Law Firm Seamlessly Integrates into Your Human Resources Infrastructure

We give an employer confidence and peace of mind because we quickly and competently deal with workplace issues in a way that makes business sense.

If you are a small organization without a dedicated human resources person then we can quickly assess whether your organization is complying with Ontario’s employment laws and tell you what you need to do to get into compliance. In addition, we will defend any legal proceeding an employee (or former employee) commences against you on your behalf.

If your organization has a dedicated human resources person then we can act as a sounding board and trusted advisor on all workplace issues. We are only a phone call away and we can often immediately answer your questions which allows you to address an issue before it escalates. We also act as an early warning signal by raising issues with you before they turn into problems. For example, did you know a new regulation is taking effect under AODA on January 1, 2016 for employers with 50 or more employees and we offer a fixed fee service to review your current HR practices to ensure they comply with this new law? For information on this service, click here.

For the past 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising and representing employers. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

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