Minimum Wage Increases
An increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 as of January 1, 2019, from the present rate of $11.40. The timetable for changes is outlined below:
|General Minimum Wage / Hour||Current Rate||Effective Oct 1, 2017||% Increase||Effective Jan 1, 2018||% Increase||Effective Jan 1, 2019||% Increase|
Employees will be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after five years of service with the same employer. This comes into force on January 1, 2018.
While many employers already meet the requirements, these amendments will increase overall labour costs for many employers particularly small businesses. Employers should examine their administrative and record-keeping practices to ensure they meet increased compliance needs.
The proposed legislation sets out a number of new scheduling rules, effective January 1, 2019, including:
These regulations will reduce employers’ scheduling flexibility, and introduce an element of risk. Businesses who reduce staffing, or cancel shifts in response to slow business, may incur financial penalties.
The ability of organizations to cope with this increased risk will vary according to size and sector, so possible solutions vary as well. However, it is expected that, in general, larger employers will have more flexibility to be able to absorb the extra costs.
Part Time/Temporary Employees
Under the proposed changes, there will be a requirement that casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are paid the same as full-time employees when performing the same job for the same employer. The rule will apply only to wages and will not require equal benefits and pensions. Similar rules apply to Temporary Help Agency (THA) employees, with the proviso that those employees are protected from retaliation for inquiring about their wage rate.
In light of these pending changes, employers should ensure that jobs are defined rigorously, as it will be critical to be able to articulate the differences in accountabilities between similar part time and full time roles.
Organizations who are unable to clearly explain this difference should examine employees’ pay on an ongoing basis, in order to ensure sustainable labour costs. For example, companies who increase pay commensurate with years of service may instead want to look at increasing pay commensurate with hours worked, to accommodate the merging of full-time and part-time pay grids.
Leaves of Absence
There are several changes related to Leaves of Absence, including:
Similar to the other changes, these new requirements require an examination of reporting processes, to ensure rigorous compliance.
The change most likely to prove controversial is the proposed prohibition on sick notes. Some employers feel strongly that sick notes are the best way to prevent abuse of sick days, but the government has clearly taken the opposite view.
Proposed Changes to the Labour Relations Act
The proposed legislation also includes changes to the Labour Relations Act, enhancing the ability of employees to unionize. Changes include:
Enhancing Employment Standards Enforcement
In addition to these measures the government proposes strong enforcement of employment standards. They plan to hire an additional 175 employment standards officers by 2020-2021. The goals for the next three years include: resolution of all claims filed within 90 days, and inspection of 10% of Ontario workplaces. There will be a heavy emphasis on education to ensure employers know their duties under the Act and that employees understand their rights and how to enforce them.
More than the others, these changes require employers to ensure rigorous compliance – particularly in terms of overtime and vacation pay, which can often be overlooked. Employers should examine their overtime policies and be certain they are compliant.
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