On May 20, 2015, employers governed by the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) will be subject to additional compliance obligations brought in by Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014.
ESA Information Poster
The existing obligation for employers to post the most recent copy (currently Version 6.0) of the Ministry of Labour information poster in a conspicuous place in the workplace is being supplemented by a new requirement to provide copies of the poster to employees who are covered by the ESA. For employees hired after May 20, 2015, employers will be required to provide the poster within 30 days of the employee’s date of hire. For existing employees, employers are required to provide the poster by June 19, 2015. If an employee requests a translation of the poster into a language other than English, the employer is required to enquire with the Ministry of Labour as to whether there is a translation of the poster in that language. If there is, the employer is required to provide that translated version to the employee. Employers may provide the poster to employees either as a printed copy or electronically, provided the employee has the ability to access and print the electronic copy. Employers can print the poster without charge at the ServiceOntario Publications website or through the following link: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pdf/poster.pdf.
In addition to the new information poster requirements, the self-audit provisions of the ESA also come into force on May 20, 2015. These provisions permit an Employment Standards Officer (ESO) to require an employer to conduct an examination of the employer’s records and practices to self-determine compliance with the ESA and its regulations. The employer is required to report the results of the self-audit to the ESO. The requirement to conduct the self-audit is triggered by the ESO providing notice to the employer specifying:
- the period to be covered by the examination;
- the provisions of the ESA or the regulations to be covered by the examination; and
- the date by which the employer must provide a report of the results of the examination the ESO.
The ESO’s notice may specify the method to be used in conducting the audit, the format of the report and any other information to be included in the report that the ESO considers appropriate.
Where unpaid wages may be at issue, the ESO’s notice may require the employer to report on whether any employees are owed wages and if so, to pay those wages. If the employer’s report indicates that employees are owed wages, the report must also include the name of every employee that is owed wages, the amount that is owed, an explanation of how the amount was calculated, and, where the notice requires payment, proof of payment of the amounts owed. Employers should keep in mind that effective February 20, 2015 Bill 18 also eliminated the $10,000 cap for unpaid wage claims and increased the recovery period for such claims from six months to two years. Both of these changes apply with respect to any unpaid wages that come due on or after February 20, 2015.
If the employer’s report reveals other non-compliances with the Act or its regulations, the employer is required to report on the measures taken to ensure future compliance. Employers should also be aware that the fact that an employer is required to conduct a self-audit does not preclude an ESO from conducting investigations or inspections, issuing orders, or from taking any other enforcement action under the Act.
In anticipation of these new requirements, Ontario employers governed by the ESA should review their compliance with the ESA and its regulations and make preparations for the distribution of the Ministry’s information poster to new and existing employees.