Ontario has become the first province in Canada to legislate pay transparency through the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 (the “Act”), which will come into force on January 1, 2019. The purpose of this legislation is to promote gender equality and equal opportunity in employment in the workplace, and to eliminate gender and other biases in pay practices. Pursuant to the Act, employers will be prohibited from seeking compensation history information from job applicants, and will be required to provide information regarding compensation for any position being advertised in public job postings. Employers will also be required to prepare “pay transparency reports” for submission to the Ministry of Labour.
A recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Aitchison v L&L Painting and Decorating Ltd, 2018 HRTO 238, confirmed that employees do not have an absolute right to smoke marijuana, medical or otherwise, in the workplace. The Tribunal held that the employer’s “zero tolerance” policy was not discriminatory, as it did not impose automatic termination of employment for violations of the policy. Employers are advised to revisit drug and alcohol policies to ensure that any “zero tolerance” type polices do not lead to automatic termination of employment without any flexibility with respect to requests for accommodation. Further, in light of the pending legalization of recreational marijuana use in Ontario, such policies should be amended to contemplate recreational use of legal substances.
A free webinar that will review the state of the law on drug and alcohol testing and offer practical insights regarding auditing and effective implementation of related policies and programs.
On April 17, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 53, the Government Contract Wages Act, 2018. Bill 53 came into force on May 8, 2018. Bill 53 aims to implement minimum wages for building cleaning, security services work provided for government-owned and occupied buildings, and for some construction work performed under contract with government entities.
Effective January 1, 2018, several amendments were made to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), including a revised public holiday pay formula. Following the amendments, an employee’s entitlement to public holiday pay must be calculated as follows: the total amount of regular wages that the employee earned in the pay period immediately before the public holiday divided by the number of days that the employee worked in the pay period immediately before the public holiday.
The change to the public holiday pay formula was not well received by all affected parties. On May 7, 2018, the Ontario Government announced that the public holiday pay formula will revert to that which existed prior to the amendments, effective July 1, 2018.
Effective January 1, 2018, the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), was amended to require employers to provide pay for two of the ten personal emergency leave days available to employees, and to make personal emergency leave available to all employees. The introduction of paid personal emergency leave created uncertainty for employers whose existing collective agreements or individual contracts of employment provided employees with some form of income protection for illness or other types of personal emergencies.
In United Steel Workers, Local 2020 and Bristol Machine Works Ltd, a labour arbitrator found that employees were not entitled to claim an additional two paid personal emergency leave days in the circumstances, as the collective agreement provided the employees with a greater right or benefit than the ESA.
The Ontario government has now proclaimed Schedule 5 of Bill 18 (also known as the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, S.O. 2014, c. 10). This Schedule will require the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to “ascribe injuries and accident costs to the clients of temporary help agencies”, rather than to the temporary help agencies themselves.
On April 5, 2018, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (the “WSIB”) published a new policy, entitled “Medical Assistance in Dying”. The new policy provides that if a worker receives medical assistance in dying as a result of a work related injury or disease in accordance with federal and provincial law, the worker will be deemed to have died as a result of the work related injury or disease.
In June 2016, Dirk Plate was convicted of fraud in a multi-million dollar overbilling scheme involving his employer, Atlas Copco Canada. Inc. Mr. Plate was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in the scheme, which involved the misappropriation of funds from Mr. Plate’s employer through the use of false advances of bonuses, approvals of illegitimate expense reimbursements and inflated and/or false invoices. In March 2018, a Toronto judge ruled in favour of Mr. Plate’s former employer in a civil action against Mr. Plate, the former General Manager (and later, Vice-President) of the Construction and Mining division at the company’s Sudbury, Ontario office. The Court found that Mr. Plate had been a fiduciary of the company, and that he had breached that duty when he became aware of the fraud scheme, benefitted from it and allowed it to continue. Accordingly, Mr. Plate was found liable for all damages incurred by the company during the period that Mr. Plate was aware of the fraudulent scheme, a sum of $20 million.
In a statement to a local newspaper, Ontario’s Minister of Labour indicated that the Ontario government will proclaim legislation written three years ago but never enacted – in particular, Schedule 5 of Bill 18 (also known as the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, S.O. 2014, c. 10). This Schedule would require the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to “ascribe injuries and accident costs to the clients of temporary help agencies”, rather than to the temporary help agencies themselves.
These articles on Canadian labour and employment law matters have been authored courtesy of the following Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti (L&E Global Canada) attorneys: Giovanna Di Sauro, Associate, email@example.com; Laura Freitag, Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Cassandra Ma, Associate, email@example.com.For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Canada, please contact Robert Bayne, Partner at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti (www.filion.on.ca) at rbayne@