Turning the Page and Upping the Wage: Some Changes to the Employment Standards Act

Feb 10, 2015

Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 received Royal Assent last year but certain sections did not take effect immediately.

Schedule 2 of Bill 18 sets out amendments to the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”). This blog summarizes some of these legislative changes as they will take effect chronologically in 2015.

1. The Monetary Limits for an ESA Complaint Increases: Starting February 20, 2015, there will be no limit on the amount of money an Employment Standards Officer can order an employer to pay for wages that become due to an employee. Wages include termination pay and severance pay. This change will significantly benefit long-service employees who work for an employer with a payroll of over $ 2 500 000 and who secure alternative employment shortly after being terminated. For example, an employee with 26 years service earning $ 100 000 a year can file a no cost claim under the ESA for termination pay and severance pay totaling $ 65 384.62. Prior to this change, the maximum order that could have been issued was generally $ 10 000.

2. The Time Limit for Filing a Complaint under the ESA Increases: Starting February 20, 2015, an employee will have two years to file a complaint under the ESA. We believe this will result in more complaints being filed under the ESA. What are the implications for employers? Employers should start keeping better records- including internal documents that confirm when vacation is taken and when people work overtime. The current time limit is generally 6 months.

3. Employers Must Provide Employees with a ESA Poster: Within 30 days of May 20, 2015 in most situations an employer will be required to provide every employee with a copy of the most recent poster published by the Minister of Labour under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). A copy of this poster is found here. Failure to comply could result in a compliance order or a fine or a prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act.

4. The Minimum Wage Increases: Starting October 1, 2015 the minimum wage will automatically increase on October 1st each year. The increase is tied to the Consumer Price Index. This change will benefit, among others, students and workers in the retail sector.

5. Employers are Liable for Temporary Help Agencies Obligations: Effective November 20, 2015, a temporary help agency and the employer are jointly and severally liable for wages owing if the temporary agency fails to pay the employee some or all of the wages owing. In other words, an employer can be ordered to pay a temporary worker his or her wages even if the employer has already paid his or her wages to the temporary agency. We therefore recommend that an employer only use reputable, and well-financed temporary help agencies.

For the past 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.

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