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Posts tagged: Ontario

Employer Alert: Ontario Government Moving Quickly to Introduce Employee Friendly Changes to the Employment Standards Act

By , June 26, 2017 10:02 am

The Ontario government is quickly moving Bill 148 through the provincial legislature.

Some Proposes Changes to the ESA

As discussed in a previous blog, Bill 148 proposes changes to the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”) including a $ 15 minimum wage by January 1, 2019, an additional week vacation after 5 years service, and two paid personal emergency leave days for absences caused by, among other things, illness and bereavement leave. In addition, if Bill 148 becomes law an employer would no longer have the right to ask an employee to provide a medical note to verify an illness.

Public Hearings to Consider Proposed Changes

On June 1, 2017 Bill 148 was ordered Second Reading and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (the “Committee”).

Public hearings on Bill 148 are scheduled for June and July.

There are a number of ways you can provide the government with feedback on Bill 148’s impact on the Ontario labour market:

  • Attend one of the public hearings being held in Thunder Bay, North Bay, Ottawa, Kingston and Windsor-Essex during the week of July 10, 2017. A contact name, mailing address, phone number and email address must be provided to the Clerk of the Committee by July 4, 2017 for anyone wishing to attend the hearings during the week of July 10, 2017. The Committee’s Clerk, Eric Rennie, at 416.325.3506 or by e-mail at [email protected].
  • Additional public hearings will occur during the week of July 17, 2017 in London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara, Hamilton and Toronto. A contact name, mailing address, phone number and email address must be provided to the Clerk by July 4, 2017 for anyone wishing to attend the hearings during the week of July 17, 2017.
  • Provide written submissions to the Committee no later than July 21, 2017 at 5:30 pm.

When Proposed Changes Expected to Take Effect

I expect these public consultations will be completed by September 11, 2017 when the legislature resumes. Bill 148 could be passed shortly thereafter and if so I expect many of the changes to the ESA will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Bill 148 is Just One of many Changes to Ontario’s Employment Laws

Ontario’s employment laws are constantly changing and Bill 148 is just one example. In recent years, the government has also introduced mandatory employee training, mandatory written policies, mandatory postings, and mandatory workplace harassment investigations.

Compliance rates are low for these new laws and the Ontario government recently announced it intends to hire 175 additional workplace inspectors and the Ministry of Labour intends to inspect 10% of Ontario workplaces each year. Bill 148 proposes increased fines for non-compliance with the ESA.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Many small and medium size employers have a hard time keeping up with these new employment laws.

In October 2017, the MacLeod Law Firm is holding seminars in Toronto & Barrie which will discuss three important developments in Ontario’s employment laws. One of the topics we will address are the new obligations imposed on employers under Ontario’s employment laws including the likely changes to the ESA as a result of Bill 148 and what to do when a Ministry of Labour inspector comes calling.

For more information on these seminars click here.


 

For over 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 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.

Ontario Liberal Government Introduces Legislation to Create a Provincial Pension Plan

By , December 10, 2014 1:07 pm

On December 8, 2014, the Ontario government introduced Bill 56 which if passed into law will be called the Ontario Pension Plan Act, 2014.

Under Bill 56, employees who are not part of a pension plan and their employers would each be required to contribute 1.9% of the employee’s earnings up to $ 90 000 each year to a provincial pension plan. This is in addition to the employee’s and employer’s contribution to the Canada Pension Plan.

According to the National Post,  two out of every three Ontario employees are not currently enrolled in a pension plan. The National Post article includes reaction from a number of stakeholders. “Employers worry that by making it more expensive to hire, the new pension plan will negatively impact job creation and hurt Ontario’s competitiveness,” said Chamber president and CEO Allan O’Dette. “We need to ensure that any changes to the pension system are made with a full understanding of the impact they will have on Ontario’s business climate.”

Bill 56 represents another payroll tax on Ontario employers. For an employee earning $ 50 000 a year, an employer is currently required to contribute $ 1,279.15 to EI, $ 2425.50 to CPP, $ 3019.19 to the WSIB if the person works in auto assembly, and $ 975 in employer health tax if the employer’s payroll is over $ 850 000. The Ontario Pension Plan Act if passed into law will require an employer to pay an additional $ 975 in payroll taxes for this employee.  For a discussion of payroll taxes in Ontario, click here.

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

“The material and information provided on this blog and this website are for general information only and should not, in any respect, 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 linked or referred to or contained herein. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the Macleod Law Firm.”

Jian Ghomeshi: Legal Shades of Grey Part 2 – CBC Investigation

By , November 10, 2014 5:51 pm

Janice Rubin, a lawyer and a workplace investigator has been retained by the CBC in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi affair.

Her mandate (or terms of reference) are reproduced in a recent article by Brian Lilly.

Ms. Rubin’s mandate raises a number of interesting legal questions:

1. Ms. Rubin can only talk to people who decide to come forward. Given the under reporting of sexual harassment in the workplace, why wasn’t she asked to initiate conversations with employees who worked on Mr. Ghomeshi’s shows? News reports suggest that interns from The University of Western Ontario and Carleton University had concerns about the way they were treated while working on Mr. Ghomeshi’s show. Under the terms of her mandate, Ms. Rubin cannot contact these universities or interns.

2. If someone comes forward with a complaint then the person can lodge an informal complaint or a formal complaint. For formal complaints, Ms. Rubin must follow CBC’s complaint process. I suspect there is no provision in CBC’s policy which allows an employee to come forward and say: ” I was not sexually harassed personally but I was subject to a poisoned work environment.” Ms. Rubin can only make findings with respect to each specific complaint. In the circumstances it is difficult to understand why Ms. Rubin has not been specifically asked to find out whether Mr. Ghomeshi created a poisoned work environment. Could it be because this finding could expose CBC to significant legal liability?

3. Is the CBC using Ms. Rubin’s investigation to obtain evidence against Mr. Ghomeshi? If so, will the CBC try to rely on this new information to justify his termination at Mr. Ghomeshi’s arbitration?

4. Ms. Rubin is a lawyer and an investigator. Is she being retained as a lawyer or an investigator? If she is being retained as a lawyer then is the information she gathers and discusses with the CBC protected by solicitor/client privilege? For example, she is required to provide CBC with a summary of any complaints “maintaining confidentiality to the extent possible.”  I suspect Mr. Ghomeshi will want the CBC to disclose all documents that Ms. Rubin creates during her investigation at his arbitration hearing.  Accordingly, in these circumstances I doubt Ms. Rubin will prepare witness statements which would provide Mr. Ghomeshi with a preview of CBC’s evidence at the arbitration hearing.

5. Ms. Rubin has been asked to make findings “to the extent you are able to make them with respect to each specific complaint”. It is extremely unlikely Mr. Ghomeshi will talk to Ms. Rubin. So Ms. Rubin will not be faced with a he said/she said situation. She will only be able to assess the credibility of the complainant. It will be interesting to see what facts she takes into account when assessing the credibility of any complainant who comes forward.

For more legal commentary on this story, see The Jian Ghomeshi story: The Basics.

For the past 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has restricted his law practice to employment law. He represents employers and employees. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

 

Hiring Employees In Ontario, Canada | Navigating the Employment Law Waters

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By , July 27, 2012 11:50 am

Hiring Employees in Ontario, Canada

If you are thinking about hiring employees in Ontario, Canada here are five issues you’ll need to consider:

1.    Do federal or provincial laws apply?

About 90% of Ontario employees are governed by provincial laws.

Federal laws apply to employees who work for federal undertakings such as the federal government, banks, and telecommunication companies.

2.    What provincial laws apply?

There are several Ontario employment statutes including

–       the Employment Standards Act which sets out numerous minimum standards including hours of work,  minimum notice of termination, and severance pay;

–       the Human Rights Code which prohibits employment discrimination on 16 prohibited grounds such as sex, race, sexual orientation, and disability;

–       the Occupational Health & Safety Act  which imposes numerous safety obligations on, among others, owners, directors, and employers;

–        the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act which determines compensation for workplace injuries;

–       the Pay Equity Act which mandates equal pay for work of equal value; and

–       the Accessibility For Ontarians with Disabilities Act which requires employers to take measures to accommodate people with disabilities

3.    What judge made laws apply?

There are many legal proceedings that an employee can bring against his or her former employer including

–       a wrongful dismissal action if the employer did not provide the employee with “reasonable notice of termination. Damages are generally up to 24 months remuneration.

–       a no cost complaint under the Employment Standards Act where orders cannot generally exceed $ 10 000, or under the Human Rights Code where damage awards are theoretically unlimited.

–       an action in the courts for violating an employee’s privacy rights (i.e. the tort of the inclusion upon seclusion.

4.    What laws apply to unionized employees?

The laws mentioned above apply to both union and non-union employees.

About 28 % of Ontario’s workforce is unionized.

The process for unionizing an employer is set out in the Ontario Labour Relations Act. There is a different labour relations regime for the construction industry. Generally, a union files a written certification application, the employer has two days to respond, and an employee vote can be scheduled within five days of the union application.

5.    How does one navigate Ontario’s Employment Law waters?

There are numerous free on-line resources, particularly from the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

There are scores of employment law lawyers in Ontario particularly in the Greater Toronto Area.

Some employment law firms offer complimentary seminars on different employment law issues. In addition, a number of employment lawyers tweet and blog on employment law issues.

If you have any employment law questions, please call us at 1–888-640-1728 or email us at [email protected]. You can follow us on twitter (@MacLeodLawFirm) or subscribe to our employment law blog at www.macleodlawfirm.ca/employers 

The Cost of Litigating a Wrongful Dismissal Action

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By , July 20, 2012 9:20 pm

A Wrongful Dismissal Action – What are the Costs?

The MacLeod Law Firm recently settled a wrongful dismissal case for a client. The costs of litigation can be considerable. There are lessons for employers to learn from this case.

The Basic Facts A former managerial employee sued our client for wrongful dismissal. He was terminated after about three years of continuous service. He had previous employment with our client. Ontario courts will sometimes recognize an employee’s total length of service when determining reasonable notice so there was a risk that a court would conclude he was entitled to a lengthy reasonable notice period.

The Employee’s Lawyer The employee’s lawyer took an unreasonable settlement position and almost immediately started litigation.

The Employee’s New Job About four months after he was terminated, the former employee found a new job.

Formal Offer to Settle We served a formal offer to settle on the employee’s lawyer and he accepted.

Details of the Settlement Here is how the settlement monies were allocated: 33% to the former employee which was about one month’s pay; 40% to the former employee’s lawyer; 20% to the government for Employment Insurance overpayment; and,  7% to the government for withholding tax on the payment made to the former employee

Lessons to be Learned

  1. Require all new employees to sign an employment contract with a properly drafted termination clause. (This was a new client who did not have an employment contract when we were retained!) In this case, the employer could have limited its liability to three weeks termination pay with an employment contract and avoided litigation altogether.
  2. A formal Offer to Settle at the right time in the litigation process is a powerful tool.
  3. Wrongful dismissal litigation is expensive for all parties including the successful party. One way for an employer, who does not have an employment contract with a termination clause, to avoid litigation is to prepare a fair severance package and to treat the employee with dignity and respect when the employee is terminated. In this scenario, unless just cause for termination exists, we often recommend that the employee be specifically told that the termination is not performance-related and suggest that the Company offer to provide the employee with a positive reference. In our experience, the person is much less likely to litigate in these circumstances.

If you have any questions about employment contracts, the contents of severance packages, or wrongful dismissal litigation, please call Macleod Law Firm at 1–888-640-1728 or email us at [email protected]

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