Ensuring compliance with new and existing legislation

Always inform your insurer of staff changes

Keeping a terminated or ineligible employee on your benefit plan without approval from the insurer could result in the insurer refusing to pay for expenses incurred by the employee. Be sure to check with your insurer before taking action.

Find out how to calculate overtime pay in Ontario

The “Complying with the Employment Standards Act: A Workbook for Employers” is a very good resource. You can find it at www.labour.gov.on.ca or call the Employment Standards Call Centre at 1-800-531-5551

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019

Employers are no longer required to post the ESA poster providing information about the Act and regulations in the workplace. Employers are still required to provide employees with a copy of the poster upon hire.

Employers are no longer required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Labour (MOL) to make agreements that allow their employees to work an excess of 48 hours in a work week. Employers only require written approval from the employee.

Employers are no longer required to obtain approval from the MOL to make agreements that allow the employer to average employees’ hours of work for the purpose of determining the employee’s entitlement to overtime pay. Hours may be averaged in accordance with the terms of an averaging agreement determined by employer and employee.

Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 repeals or rewrites many of the provisions of the previous government’s Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Employees are now entitled to 8 unpaid leave days (3 sick days, 3 family responsibility days, 2 bereavement days) as opposed to 10 personal emergency leave (PEL) days with the first 2 paid.

Employers are entitled to ask for a doctor’s note from employee requesting such leaves of absence.

Ontario minimum wage rates

  • Most adult workers: $14.25/hr (until September 30, 2021)
  • Part-time students under 18: $13.40/hr up to 28 hrs per week
  • Liquor servers: $12.45/hr

What is constructive dismissal?

At common law, a constructive dismissal occurs where an employer unilaterally makes a fundamental change to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment without providing the employee with reasonable notice of the change. Where this happens, the employee may elect to treat the employer’s actions as a repudiation of the employment contract and commence an action for wrongful dismissal.
Source: Canadian Employment Law Today, Jan 30, 2008, p.2

Promoting employee health & safety

You must display the “In Case of Injury-1234” poster

Under a regulation of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), employers are required to prominently display the poster entitled “In Case of Injury–1234” in their workplace. This poster is provided free of charge to employers directly by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) by calling calling the WSIB at 416-344-1016 or 1-800-663-6639 or you can download your free copy, at: Poster JPG

You must review your company’s health and safety policy annually

and you must have a program in place to implement that policy. Both your policy and the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be readily available for employees to review. Be sure to document your review. In terms of documentation requirements – If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen!

Review your company’s use of hazardous materials annually

WHMIS(Workplace Hazardous Material Information System) is a Canada-wide system designed to give employers and workers information about the labeling and use of hazardous materials used in the workplace. All employees must be properly trained in handling and use of the materials. An annual review (but not annual training in WHMIS) is required.

Are you a service-oriented employer interacting with members of the public on a daily basis? See how recent surges in opioid use may put your workers at risk of new workplace hazards.

Workplace hazard assessments are an important tool for recognizing new and ongoing hazards in the workplace, and for determining effective control measures to ensure the health and safety of all employees.

Mental Health

Mental health is an issue that impacts every workplace in Canada. Employers can contribute positively or negatively to a person’s mental health and so it is important to ensure that you are helping to create a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. Implementing standard operating procedures, providing training and learning opportunities, and promoting open communication are all initiatives that will help to improve the mental well-being of employees.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada now offers Mental Health First Aid training for employees to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills to better manage potential, developing and realized mental health issues both in themselves and others in the workplace.

Workplace relations

Supervisors are workers’ preferred news source

According to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), employees’ preferred source of information is their immediate supervisor, not top executives or union representatives. Good supervisors translate the company’s vision, mission and value for employees and put it in the context of the team and the employee’s information needs.

How do you create job satisfaction?

A Workopolis survey of more than 8,000 working Canadians discovered the No. 1 driver of job satisfaction is workplace culture where:

  • Innovation is encouraged
  • Employee ideas and concerns are welcomed
  • Constant learning is supported
  • Good work is recognized and praised
  • Career paths are developed
  • Employees feel challenged by their work
  • Best practices are shared
  • Teamwork is rewarded
  • Everyone knows why things need to be done
  • Great managers are prized.

Source: HR Thought Leader, February/March 2008, p. 59

Dealing with difficult conversations

Communication is key to successful workplace relations and culture and thus, having difficult conversations with employees is sometimes necessary to ensure organizational progression and avoid toxicity in the work environment.

Feelings of fear, conflict, guilt, surprise and change make conversations difficult with employees and/or co-workers. It is important to approach confrontation without intimidation, use positive language, listen and receive everything the employee/co-worker has to say, but remain assertive in getting your point across.

Source: HRDQ, “Dealing with Difficult Conversations” Instructor Guide

Put it in writing, before there’s a problem

Employment contracts are an important step in communicating with new hires what they can reasonably expect from their relationship with your company, and what you expect in return. While no contract can address every potential issue, it is generally easier to discuss likely areas of disagreement before a problem has occurred. Employment agreements are always less expensive than the direct and indirect costs of termination, and are definitely less stressful than a legal challenge by a former employee.

Workplace Violence and Harassment

Some words are no joke

Sexualized and racialized words and conduct are not appropriate in the workplace, even when they might appear to be light-hearted. Employees should be trained to recognize conduct that may be perceived as harassing, bullying or discriminatory. Management should always address harassment or discrimination complaints right away.
Source: Canadian Employment Law Today, Jan 16, 2008, p.7

Employer responsibilities under Bill 168

Under Bill 168, employers must implement a policy and program outlining the procedures for preventing and dealing with incidents of workplace violence or harassment, as well as provide training.

Changes to Bill 168 include: the duty to conduct an investigation into reports of workplace violence/harassment that is “appropriate in the circumstances”, employers must ensure confidentiality, provide for an alternate report mechanism, and notify all parties involved of the results of the investigation within 10 days of its completion.

Sixteen signs of workplace bullying you can’t afford to ignore

Studies of workplace bullying indicate that most of the victims are bullied by their managers. The most likely targets of workplace bullying are individuals who are high achievers, are successful, have higher qualifications, are more efficient, have superior social skills, have good looks, or are more creative. In short, they’re likely to be some of your best employees. Pay close attention to how managers relate to their team members. Common signs of workplace bullying include:

  • Public humiliation
  • Personal insults and name-calling
  • Persistent criticism
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Freezing out, ignoring or excluding
  • Constantly undervaluing effort
  • Removing areas of responsibility
  • Deliberately sabotaging or impeding work performance
  • Refusing to delegate
  • Constantly changing work guidelines
  • Withholding necessary information
  • Over-monitoring, especially with malicious intent
  • Setting up individuals to fail – e.g. impossible deadlines
  • Blocking applications for leave, promotion
  • Using lengthy memos to make wild and inaccurate accusations
  • Instigating complaints from others to make individual appear incompetent

Source: http://ring.uvic.ca/98mar20/Bullying.html

Is your workplace in a high-risk location?

Under Bill 168, if your workplace is in close proximity to a bar or a bank, or is in an isolated area, you may need to take extra steps to protect your employees. Be sure your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan addresses these issues.

Conducting a risk assessment is an important process for determining if various elements of the physical work environment put employees at greater risk of violence and/or harassment at work.

Once specific risk assessments associated with conditions of work have been completed, employers are able to implement the necessary controls to either eliminate or reduce such risks that could lead to violence and/or harassment.

Employers have a duty to report spousal abuse

Since the passage of Bill 168, employers who suspect that an employee is being abused by his or her spouse have a duty to make that employee aware of any community resources available to support him/her and to prevent instances of the spouse harassing the employee at work.

Motivated Leadership

Do you ever wish there were more people you could count on?

Investing in leadership and supervisory training for a broad base of employees is one way to help overburdened entrepreneurs and managers reduce their stress levels and get more done. Often, when a manager or supervisor has difficulty delegating, it is because they lack confidence in the skills of those to whom they would delegate most tasks. What can you do to help?

As a leader one of your key responsibilities is to develop the talents of others. Ask yourself how you’re developing that skill in your managers? Help them figure out what decisions they routinely make that can be delegated. Look at past successes for clues to the skills and talents their subordinates have that may be well developed. Encourage your managers to take reasonable risks by giving them a safe environment – encourage rather than criticize.

Leadership is a learned behaviour

While even “born leaders” can improve their leadership and management skills with ongoing professional development, it’s important not to overlook other members of your staff team when it comes to leadership development and training. You may need to look beyond job titles to find and nurture the true thought-leaders in your workplace.


Reduce your hiring costs…work with a Human Resources professional

Hiring is one of the most expensive and risky decision managers make, yet this risk is often underestimated. The wrong hiring decision can mean wasted time, wasted effort, negative customer experience, lost revenue, salary dollars spent re-doing work, and a negative impact on other team members. Think about it; an employee who earns $40K per year costs you about $240K over 5 years. That’s a huge investment!

To know how to hire the right employee you have to know what you are hiring for–not just the position title, duties and education, but the instinctive basic needs of the position. Think about who this position will interact with and what skills they really need to excel. Also think about what qualities or personal characteristics could get them into trouble in this particular role. Once you have a good sense of what the qualifications are, you’ll need a plan for finding out if the candidates have those qualifications. How? Work with an experienced HR professional. He or she will be able to advise you on a techniques and strategies to elicit that information, and in many cases will even help you screen applications and conduct interviews accordingly.

The importance of effectively onboarding new employees

While recruiting and selecting new talent is a strenuous process in itself, it is crucial for employers to put the same effort into orienting a new employee to the organization. This not only includes familiarizing new hires to the policies, procedures and workplace culture of the organization, but ensuring his or her compliance with all applicable employment legislation.

Manager’s Guide

Even small companies need a Manager’s Guide

Even if your company has only a handful of employees, documenting your policies and supporting procedures is a good practice that will heighten adherence and reduce unnecessary misunderstandings. Always ensure that your Manager’s Guide is highly customized to your workplace. It should provide the framework governing the relationship between your organization and employees and offer practical guidance for managers.

Employee Handbooks

Employee handbooks help protect employers

Employee handbooks are not only important for orienting new employees; they also play a role in protecting employers. When all employees have been provided with the same instructions and information , it goes a long way to helping them know what’s expected of them. The best employee handbooks use clear, concise language and point the employee to discuss anything that’s unclear with their manager.

Compensation Plan Design

Wondering how much to pay? Always do your own research

Today’s candidates and employees can access salary data in a few keystrokes, however much of this information is of limited use and may not be applicable to your business. Typically, the salary information available on the Internet is far too general and not specific to your geographic locale. Yet, employees will often use this information to sell themselves and to negotiate higher salaries than their positions are actually worth. Feeling pressured, some employers give in to these demands, creating internal compensation inequities that can cause serious strain on employment relationships. The best way to prevent these issues is to work with a qualified Human Resources professional to develop a strong company compensation plan, based on current market data.

Compensation isn’t just about money

Making an employment opportunity compelling for an employee requires that you understand what that person values. Sometimes compensation is about money, sometimes it’s about flexibility, location, benefits or other perks. Try to think outside the box.

The average cost of a lost time workplace injury claim in Ontario was $26,052.00 in 2009. Adding replacement, training and administrative costs an average lost time claim can easily exceed $50,000.00.
Source: WSIB, Prevention Services, February 2011

Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes of workplace lost time injury in Ontario; nearly 20 per cent of all lost time injury claims in Ontario relate to slips, trips and falls.
Source: Ministry of Labour, Fact Sheet #6, January 2011

Allowed lost time WSIB claims in Ontario have declined from 104,154 claims in 2000 to 64,824 in 2009, a very significant decrease of 38% over a 10 year period.
Source: WSIB Health & Safety Statistics, May 2010
Source: WSIB Annual Report 2009