Ontario’s Bill 27 (also referred to as the Working for Workers Act, 2021) and Bill 88 (the Working for Workers Act, 2022) have passed into law. Both legislations make major amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), and in case of Bill 88 – also to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Bill 88 also creates a new Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022 (DPWRA).
If you’re an employer covered by the Ontario ESA and OHSA, you’ll be required to take note of the changes coming into effect and update your contracts and policies accordingly. A clear understanding of HR responsibilities will help you stay compliant with new laws as well as effectively manage your workforce.
Here are the HR obligations Ontario employers need to be following in 2022:
Workplace postings required by law:
- Poster – “Health & Safety at Work: Prevention Starts Here”: This poster covers the rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors, and employers under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. Employers must have the poster in English and the main language spoken in the workplace.
- Poster – “What You Need to Know” about the Employment Standards Act: Employers are no longer required to put up this poster in the workplace; however, it should be distributed to all employees within 30 days of their start date.
- Poster – “In Case of Injury” (Form 82) if your workplace is covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB): This poster is required by WSIB and details the steps workers and employers must take if an injury occurs in the workplace.
- Names and locations of the workplace’s joint health and safety committee (JHSC) members, or the health and safety representative.
- A copy of the company health and safety policy, workplace violence policy and workplace harassment policy if the business employs more than five workers.
- Signage barring smoking and use of e-cigarettes in the workplace and any surrounding area.
- A copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act also needs to be on the company website and in the workplace.
A Workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee
For organizations that have between 20 and 49 employees, a Joint Health and Safety Committee with at least two members is a must. If you have more than 50 employees, your JHSC must have at least four members.
For organizations with more than 5 but less than 20 employees, a Health and Safety Representative is a requirement.
Workplace policies required by law:
- An Accessibility Policy
- A Workplace Health & Safety Policy
- A Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy,
- A Pay Equity Plan Policy (only applies to businesses with 10 or more employees)
New workplace policies coming into effect in 2022:
Right to disconnect (Bill 27)
Employers with 25 or more employees on January 1st of any given year must have a written policy in regard to employees’ right to disconnect from work by March 1st of that year. The deadline to comply with the policy for 2022 is June 2.
Electronic monitoring policy (Bill 88)
Employers with 25 or more employees on January 1st of any given year must have a written policy on electronic monitoring of employees by March 1st of that year. The deadline to comply with the policy for 2022 is October 11.
Other notable changes to Ontario ESA
Please note that Bill 27 made non-compete agreements or clauses illegal for most employees. If this is applicable to you, you must update your existing employment contracts to ensure compliance.
Bill 88 has amended the reservist leave to state that workers participating in Canadian Armed Forces military skills training now qualify for this leave as well. An employee is entitled to the reservist leave after being employed by the employer for three consecutive months.
Notable changes to the OHSA
The Working for Workers Act, 2022 has increased fines for certain convictions. The fine for violating OHSA for individuals has gone up from $100,000 to up to $500,000. The limitation period for instituting a prosecution under the OHSA has also gone up from one year to two years. These new provisions come into effect on July 1, 2022.
Certain employers will now have to provide and maintain in good condition a naloxone kit in the workplace, if they become aware that a worker maybe at risk of an opioid overdose. A date for this requirement to come into force is yet to be announced.
Ontario employers have a legal obligation to perform:
- Violence prevention and training
- Harassment prevention and training
- AODA training
- Health & safety prevention and training
Although not legally mandatory, employers can benefit from other policies, such as privacy, intoxicants (including cannabis, as well as alcohol), human rights, and accommodation.