Updated Workplace Legal Obligations
There have been developments in the laws regulating the workplace since we originally posted this article. With many of the changes coming into effect, including new Employment Standards Act, 2000 posting requirements, we thought it a good time to update and re-post this article.
In addition to reaching sales goals, managing expenses, marketing, and a myriad of other obligations, business owners have a number of legal obligations that they must meet in respect of the workplace. Recognizing that time and resources are at a premium, we have put together a list of some of the key statutory obligations, along with free tools designed to assist Ontario employers meet those obligations. Depending on the type of work your company does, and the number of employees you employ you may have additional or different obligations but the following are good building block resources for Ontario employers.
1: The updated Employment Standards Act, 2000 poster must be posted and distributed
The Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) poster has been updated. All employers covered by the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) in the province (excluding the Crown) must display this poster in the employer’s workplace where it is likely to be seen by employees. Key dates include the following:
- May 20, 2015 employers must post the new ESA poster;
- Beginning May 20, 2015 employers are required to provide any new employees with a copy of the new poster within thirty days of being hired;
- June19, 2015 employers must provide all existing employees a copy of the new ESA poster.
2: Occupational Health and Safety
a) Employers need to post a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
The Occupational Health and Safety Act is Ontario’s law that governs health and safety in the workplace and establishes legal duties and minimum responsibilities for employers, supervisors and workers. Employers are required to post a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in a prominent place.
b) Employers must develop Health and Safety Policy
Employers with six or more employees must prepare and review at least annual a written Occupational Health and Safety Policy and must develop and maintain a program to implement that policy. An example of a Health and Safety Policy is available at www.labour.gov.on.ca
c) Employers must provide Health and Safety Training
As of July 1, 2014 the Occupational Health and Safety Act also requires employers to provide health and safety awareness training for every workers and supervisor and to document that training. Training program resources are available on line at www.labour.gov.on.ca. New Supervisors must receive the health and safety awareness training within seven (7) days of being hired. Employees must receive the training as soon possible after their hire date.
3: Employers must have a Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Policy
The Occupational Health and Safety Act also requires all employers in Ontario to have a Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Policy. A useful resource called “Developing Workplace Violence and Harassment Policies and Programs: A Toolbox“ has been developed to help Ontario employers meet the Act’s requirements and is a great starting point for employers.
4: Employers must provide employees with proper training and protective equipment
5: Employers must put up the WSIB Poster
Employers are also required to post the WSIB Poster in a prominent place. The poster is available online or can be ordered in by calling 1-800-387-0750.
6: Employers must comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
As of 2012 all businesses in Ontario have new obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In an effort to assist employers meet their obligations under this Act, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has put together a reporting tool as well as a the AODA Compliance Wizard which is designed to help employers know what they need to do to help them comply Ontario’s accessibility law.
7: Employers must have a Privacy Plan
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) requires organizations to take reasonable steps to safeguard the personal information in their custody or control from such risks as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has prepared an online tool to assist small and medium sized business develop a Privacy Plan as well as a self-assessment tool for organizations to evaluate how securely they protect individuals personal information.
8 (Voluntary): Employers should promote good mental health in the workplace
Described as a world first and entirely voluntary, the Mental Health Commission of Canada launched the National Standard, designed to help employers of all sizes, and in all sectors, promote good mental health and prevent psychological harm for every employee. It does this by providing the guidelines, resources and tools needed to build a mentally healthy workplace.