Overview of Changes Coming from the Stronger Workplaces for Stronger Economy Act, 2014
Published on: 12/01/2015
On November 20, 2014, Bill 18 – Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014received royal assent. The Bill will make changes to a number of health and safety, and employment laws in the province, including to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (EPFNA), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).
Below are components of the Act that may impact the sewer and watermain industry:
Beginning in 2015, minimum wage will be increased by the rate of inflation each year. The Minister of Labour will announce the new wage rate in March, with the rate set to be applied on October 1st of the same Calendar year. In 2015, rates are as follows:
• General Minimum Wage $11.00 per hour;
• Student Minimum Wage $10.30 per hour;
The rate of inflation will be determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous calendar year. If CPI decreases, no wage adjustment will be made that year.
Temporary Agency Workers
Beginning in November 2015, client companies of temporary help agencies (THA) will be jointly and severally liable for any wages, overtime pay, or public holiday pay that the THA fails to pay its workers. It is the agency’s responsibility to pay the worker properly, but if it does not, the worker can seek compensation from the client company.
Client companies will now be required to keep records of all the hours and dates that a temporary worker is under their employ.
Experience Rating and Temporary Workers
A new definition for “temporary help agency” has been introduced by this Bill under the WSIA. The new definition gives the government the ability to make regulations that could make client companies responsible for an injury to a temporary agency worker on their jobsite. This would be done by attributing the injury to the client company’s experience rating. Language around this provision was left vague however, and does not require the government to enact regulations. It is presently unclear if this change will occur at all. More information will be provided if a change is officially enacted.
Beginning on May 20, 2015, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will launch an online self-audit program for employers to identify when/where a company may be in violation of the Employment Standards Act. The MOL will also have the power to require an employer to do a self-audit and report on the outcomes to the Ministry. If the self-audit identifies that wages are owed to one or more employees, the employer must provide proof of payment of the amount owed to the workers. If an employer does not comply, the MOL may issue orders for payment of wages.
Employment Rights Information
An Employment Standards poster must be posted by employers in the workplace where employees will likely see it. The poster is available at the following link:http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pdf/poster.pdf. It provides detail on workers’ minimum employment rights like public holidays, overtime pay and minimum wage. Beginning on May 20, 2015, employers will also be required to give each worker a copy of the poster and provide it to all new employees within 30 days of being hired.
Recovering Unpaid Wages
Beginning on February 20, 2015, there will no longer be a maximum placed on unpaid wages that the MOL can order an employer to pay an employee – a $10,000 maximum on this provision currently exists. Workers will now also be able to file a claim for up to two years after the fact, where the present limit is six-months. This new provision will only apply to unpaid wages that become due to be paid to a worker on or after February 20, 2015.
Health and Safety Protection for Unpaid Interns / Volunteers / Students
Beginning November 20, 2014, volunteers, students, unpaid interns, and trainees will be afforded with the same protections as paid employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
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