Employment and Legislation Updates
Stay up to date with the latest employment and legislation updates in Canada. List updated monthly.
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- Changes to Ontario WSIB policies
- British Columbia return to work obligation updates
- Masking mandates back in many Health Care settings
- Next Public Holiday: Saturday November 11, 2023
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program Recognized Employer Pilot
- Federally Regulated Employers in Canada Required to Provide Free Menstrual Products for Employees
- Manitoba careers for internationally educated professionals program
- Feedback wanted on employment standards provisions – Saskatchewan
- Reimbursement of Work-Related Expenses
- Written Employment Statements
- Disclosure of Employee Rights and Obligations
- Manitoba: Employee Personnel Files
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program Extended
- Federally Regulated Employees: Death or Disappearance of a Child Leave
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Manitoba
- Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia Minimum Wage
- British Columbia Officially Recognized Additional Holiday
- Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increase Update
- Medical Marijuana: Increased difficulty for zero-tolerance policies
- Manitoba Minimum Wage Increase
- Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increase
- Family Day – Upcoming Canadian Holiday
- Manitoba Right to Refuse Work on Sunday
- Changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance program
- International students’ hours of work limitations to be temporarily lifted
- Paid medical leave for federally regulated employees
- Right to Disconnect policy requirement – Ontario
Changes to Ontario WSIB policies
The following are changes to Ontario WSIB policies:
- Deadline for Employers’ Initial Accident Reporting change from seven business days to three business days. The initial time period was to account for postal delays however the majority of businesses no longer submit reports by mail.
- The Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act amended the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to specify that an apprentice’s average earnings are to be an amount equal to the average earnings of a journeyperson in the same trade as the apprentice.
- WSIB will provide businesses with an independent non-economic loss medical assessment report once the person with an injury or illness is notified and given an opportunity to object to the assessment report being disclosed. WSIB provides a choice from a list of physicians to conduct independent non-economic loss medical assessments. The chosen physician must also consider reports from other treating healthcare professionals.
- WSIB will calculate a person’s short-term average earnings using the complete pay periods closest to the date of the person’s injury or illness that represent four consecutive weeks of earnings.
- WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence Program Extended through the end of 2024.
British Columbia return to work obligation updates
New guidance from WorkSafeBC will come into effect on January 1, 2024. The Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2022 created two new return-to-work duties for workers and employers.
- Duty to co-operate will create obligations for all workers and employers to co-operate with each other and WorkSafeBC to achieve a timely and safe return to work outcome.
- Duty to maintain will require the employer to maintain the injured worker’s employment consistent with the worker’s fitness to work. This will apply to employers that regularly employ 20 or more workers and in instances where the employer has employed the worker for a continuous period of at least 12 months prior to the injury.
Masking mandates back in many Health Care settings
British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nunavut are now requiring masks by health care workers, visitors, contractors and volunteers in any area in a healthcare facility that is accessible to patients, residents and clients who are accessing care.
In Prince Edward Island, masks are mandatory for health care employees and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.
New Brunswick is requiring masks for any hospital having two or more outbreak units in the hospital.
Alberta Health Services has implemented masking policies as well for health care settings however regions and hospitals are allowed to opt out the policies.
Next Public Holiday: Saturday November 11, 2023
The next public (statutory) holiday is Remembrance Day, which is observed on November 11 each year, but only in some jurisdictions.
Remembrance Day is a paid statutory holiday is Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Employees receive a day off with regular pay and/or holiday pay. If the employee is required to work on the holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and receive a substituted day off with pay at a later date (depending on the province or territory of employment).
Federally regulated employees also have a holiday on Remembrance Day.
Some employees receive a day off un the Province’s Remembrance Day Act in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Employees who do not work that day do not get paid for the day unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit.
Remembrance Day is a memorial day and not a public holiday in Ontario and Quebec.
Minimum Wage Increases
A reminder that effective October 1, 2023, minimum wage increased in:
Manitoba to $15.30 per hour.
Newfoundland to $15.00 per hour. The overtime rate also increased to $22.50 per hour.
Nova Scotia to $15.00 per hour. Beginning April 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate will be adjusted with inflation plus an additional 1% annually.
Prince Edward Island to $15.00 per hour.
Saskatchewan to $14 per hour.
Ontario increased to $16.55 an hour. The special minimum wage for students under the age of 18, who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school break or summer holidays to $15.60 an hour.
Next Public Holiday: Monday October 9, 2023
The next public holiday under employment/labour standards legislation is Thanksgiving on Monday October 9, 2023. Thanksgiving is a public (statutory) holiday in all provinces and territories, except for the Atlantic provinces. Employees receive a day off with regular pay or public holiday pay (depending on the province or territory of employment). If the employee is required to work on the holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and receive a substituted day off with pay at a later date (depending on the province or territory of employment). In the Atlantic provinces, retail business holidays legislation requires certain retail businesses to close on Thanksgiving Day.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Recognized Employer Pilot
The Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) will help to reduce the administrative burden and simplify the hiring process for repeat Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program employers who demonstrate a history of complying with program requirements.
Most employers need an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before they can submit an application to hire a temporary foreign worker. An LMIA confirms there is a need for a temporary foreign worker and that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the job. It also ensures that the employer’s job offer is legitimate, and the employer has complied with Program requirements to protect workers.
To participate in REP, employers must have a minimum of three positive LMIA’s for the same occupation over the past five years from a list of occupations that have been designated as in-shortage and supported using Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) data.
Employers who become recognized will gain access to LMIA validity periods of up to 36 months, and, if required, simplified LMIA applications to hire additional workers in the future.
REP will be rolled out in two stages:
- Stage one begins in September 2023, when employers in the Primary Agriculture stream will be able to apply in time for the 2024 season.
- Stage two begins in January 2024 and opens intake to all other industry sectors.
Applications for both streams will be accepted until September 2024.
Employers who are expected to meet REP eligibility criteria will be proactively invited to apply using a dual-purpose LMIA application which differs from the regular LMIA. Employers can request the application be used to apply for recognized status under REP and for the LMIA at the same time.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will determine REP eligibility based on the employer’s history with the TFW Program. Should an employer not receive recognized status, they will remain eligible to use the TFW Program and the Department would continue to assess their LMIA.
The assessment of a REP application will be based on the employer’s history of compliance with the TFW Program and how often they use the Program to fill in-demand occupations.
Eligible employers can expect:
- a simplified application process for future LMIA applications for positions on the COPS list;
- fewer points of contact between participating employers and ESDC during the pilot due to simplified LMIA forms that enable employers to hire additional temporary foreign workers for genuine job offers during REP; and a Job Bank designation that shows their recognized status to improve interest from prospective workers.
EDSC will be offering technical briefings to stakeholders to provide more information about REP and the application process. Further details will be made available soon. For further information about the program, follow this link.
Federally Regulated Employers in Canada Required to Provide Free Menstrual Products for Employees
On May 10th, 2023, changes to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations under the Canada Labour Code were made that will require federally regulated employers to make menstrual products available to their employees for free and provide disposal containers at every workplace toilet.
Public and private federally-regulated employers in Canada – which include banks, railways, airlines, telecommunications companies, and others – will be obligated to provide both tampons and pads to employees free of charge. These products must be made available in all bathrooms regardless of assigned gender. If it is not feasible to provide products in a bathroom, employers must provide them in another location in the same workplace that is controlled by the employer, accessible to all employees at all times, and reasonably private.
Federally regulated employers will also need to provide a covered container for the disposal of menstrual products in any bathroom that has only one toilet and in each toilet stall in rooms with multiple toilets regardless of the assigned gender of the bathroom.
Both the free menstrual product obligation and expanded disposal container requirement come into effect on December 15, 2023.
Manitoba careers for internationally educated professionals program
The Manitoba government is launching the new Manitoba Careers for Internationally Educated Professionals Program to help reduce financial barriers associated with foreign qualification recognition.
Modelled on the successful Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) in Manitoba Project launched in 2021, this program will provide eligible internationally educated professionals with up to $23,000 in financial assistance toward assessment and training costs associated with registering in one of Manitoba’s 28 non-nursing self-regulated professions.
For more information on the Manitoba Careers for Internationally Educated Professionals Program, visit the website.
Feedback wanted on employment standards provisions – Saskatchewan
On August 14, 2023, the Saskatchewan government announced they were looking for feedback on employment standards provisions as part of its review of Part II of The Saskatchewan Employment Act and the accompanying regulations. The goal of the review is to identify the concerns of Saskatchewan employers and employees; any redundant requirements or unnecessary red tape; and any required updates.
A discussion paper has been developed to provide background information and describe some of the key areas for consideration. The Saskatchewan government encourages stakeholders to identify any issues or concerns with the provisions of Part II of The Saskatchewan Employment Act or associated regulations by contact via email or by mail no later than October 31, 2023.
Reimbursement of Work-Related Expenses
Canada Labour Code amendments effective July 9, 2023, for federally regulated employers.
There have been 3 updates to the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employers in regard to the reimbursement of Work-Related Expense and Written Employment Statements as outlined below.
There has been an update to the reimbursement of work-related expenses. Subject to certain exceptions, employers will be obligated to reimburse employees for reasonable work-related expenses. In the absence of an agreement specifying an alternative time limit, employers will have 30 days from the date an employee submits a claim to reimburse the employee.
The changes require employers to evaluate the work relatedness of an expense:
- Connection to the employee’s performance of work;
- Whether it is required by the employer;
- Connection to satisfying a requirement of work imposed by an occupational health or safety standard; and
- Whether there is a legitimate business purpose.
And, the reasonableness of an expense:
- Connection to the employee’s performance of work;
- Whether the employer requested the expense;
- If the amount exceeded what was necessary;
- Whether the expense is one normally reimbursed by employers in similar industries;
- Whether the employer pre-authorized the expense;
- Whether it was incurred in good faith; and
- Whether the reimbursement claim includes documentation (e.g., a receipt or invoice).
Written Employment Statements
Employees must be provided with a written employment statement no later than October 7, 2023. Additionally, moving forward, employers must provide new employees with a written employment statement within the first 30 days of employment.
Employers will be required to keep a copy of any employment statement for 36 months once an employee’s employment ends. Employers must also provide employees with a revised employment statement within 30 days of any changes (i.e., internal transfers, promotions, etc.) to the information initially provided.
The employment statement must include the following information:
- the names of the parties to the employment relationship;
- the job title and a brief description of the duties and responsibilities;
- the place of work and address;
- the date employment begins;
- the term of employment;
- the probationary period, if any;
- a description of the necessary qualifications for the position;
- a description of any required training for the position;
- the hours of work for the employee—including how it is calculated and overtime rules;
- the rate of wages or salary—including overtime rates;
- the frequency of payments;
- any mandatory deductions from wages; and
- information on the reimbursement process for reasonable work-related expenses.
Disclosure of Employee Rights and Obligations
In addition to a written employment statement, employees must be provided with information regarding the rights and obligations of employers and employees under Part III of the Canada Labour Code.
The law requires employers to provide employees with these materials by October 7, 2023.
The amendments require employers to provide new employees with a copy of these materials within 30 days of starting their employment.
Employers must ensure that employees receive copies of the most recent materials made available by the ministry and ensure the materials are posted and accessible. Employers are required to provide discharged employees with a copy of the most recent materials related to the termination of an employee on or before the employee’s last day on the job.
Any breach of these new obligations may result in penalties ranging from $200 to $2,000 depending on the size of the employer.
It is recommended that federally regulated employers review their expense reimbursement policies and practices, their onboarding processes and documentation, as well as their termination practices to ensure compliance the newest CLC amendments.
Bereavement Leave in Manitoba
As of May 30, 2023 Bereavement Leave now includes Unpaid Leave for Death of a Family Member and Unpaid Leave for Loss of a Pregnancy. The leave now allows eligible employees to take up to five days off instead of the previous three days.
Unpaid Leave for Loss of a Pregnancy applies to the following employees:
- The employee who experienced the loss of pregnancy
- That employee’s spouse or common-law partner or their former spouse or common-law partner
- The current spouse or common-law partner of the former spouse or common-law partner
- An employee who had undertaken to be the guardian of the child born as a result of the pregnancy
- Or is the spouse or common-law partner of a person who had undertaken to be the guardian of the child born as a result of the pregnancy
Ontario: Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave
The Ontario paid infectious disease emergency leave ended on March 31, 2023. The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) was amended on April 29, 2021 to require employers to provide eligible employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19.
The leave was retroactive to April 19, 2021. Eligible employers can apply to be reimbursed for these payments through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023 (whichever is earlier).
Manitoba: Employee Personnel Files
As a reminder, employee files within Manitoba have the following legislative requirements when it comes to what should be within a file and maintained during employment:
Employers are required to keep records for all employees that show:
- Name, address, date of birth, and occupation
- The date the employment started
- The regular wage and overtime wage at the start of employment and whenever the wage rate changes
- The regular and overtime hours of work, recorded separately and daily
- Date wages are paid and the amount paid on each date
- Deductions from wages, and the reason for each deduction
- If applicable, overtime that is banked with the written agreement of the employee and employer and the dates the employee takes the banked time off with pay
- The dates on which general holidays are taken
- The employee’s hours of work on a general holiday and the wages paid
- Start and end dates of annual vacations, the period of employment in which the vacation is earned, and the date and amount of vacation wages paid
- The amount of any outstanding vacation wages when the employment ends and the date this is paid to the employee
- Copies of documents on maternity leave, parental leave, compassionate care leave or other leaves, including dates and number of days taken as leave
- Dates of termination of the employment
- Copies of work schedules
Keep in mind, there are legal requirements to store an employee’s medical related information in separate files which must be kept restricted and accessed only by those on a need-to-know basis.
For more information on best practices regarding employee files, payroll files and employee medical files, contact us to see how we can support your organization.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Extended
On March 27, 2023, the federal government announced the extension of temporary measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program until October 30, 2023.
As stated in the announcement, the extended measures include:
- Permitting employers in seven key sectors with demonstrated labour shortages to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program; these sectors include accommodation and food services, construction, and food manufacturing.
- Keeping the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) validity period at up to 18 months. The LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to secure prior to hiring a foreign worker. A positive LMIA will demonstrate that an employer has a need to hire a foreign worker in order to fill a position in their organization.
- Maintaining the maximum duration of employment for low-wage positions at up to two years. This change was originally implemented in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which put in place special measures to increase the duration of employment for low-wage positions from one (1) to two (2) years.
Additional information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program can be viewed here.
Federally Regulated Employees: Death or Disappearance of a Child Leave
On April 20, 2023, the federal government introduced Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act. This Bill amends details regarding the leave related to the death or disappearance of a child. For the purpose of Bill C-47, a child is defined as a person under 25 years of age.
The amendments increase the maximum length of death and disappearance of a child from 104 weeks to 156 weeks. As a result, the leave ends 156 weeks after the day on which the death or disappearance occurs.
The leave period will end for the disappearance of a child on the 14th day after the child is found, or no later than the 156 week period. An employee is not entitled to a leave of absence if the employee is charged with the crime.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Manitoba
The Manitoba Government has communicated that it will not recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial statutory holiday this year, 2023. Premier Heather Stefanson says consultations are ongoing and there is still not a consensus on how the day should be marked. This day, also known as “Orange Shirt Day”, is September 30th.
The federal government has made this day a statutory holiday for its workers and federally regulated workplaces. Provinces such as British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have followed suit.
Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia Minimum Wage
Manitoba will see a second minimum wage increase in 2023, increasing from the current rate of $14.15 per hour to $15.30 per hour effective October 1, 2023.
Ontario minimum wage will also see a jump, increasing from $15.50 per hour to $16.55 per hour effective October 1, 2023. This minimum wage increase builds on the governments work to make Ontario the best place to work, live, and raise a family.
British Columbia will see a minimum wage increase from $15.65 to $16.75 effective June 1, 2023. This increase is based on BC’s average annual inflation rate in 2022 and reflects the government’s commitment to tying annual minimum wage increases to that inflation rate.
Ontario Required Compliance Reporting Under the AODA
This year, all public sector organizations, businesses, and non-profits with 20 or more employees are legally required to report on their compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) by December 31, 2023.
The compliance report must confirm that as an organization, current accessibility requirements under the AODA have been met. If the accessibility compliance report is not completed by the due date, an organization could face enforcement measures which can include financial penalties.
Accessibility requirements for the public sector and for businesses and non-profits as well as information on how to download and complete the compliance report are available online.
Review of Accessibility Act for Manitoba
On February 16, 2023, the Manitoba government announced that there will be a comprehensive and mandatory review of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) that will focus on initiatives already recognized under the act and the structures that support it. The review will also include consultation with the public, particularly those with lived experiences.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act became law in December 2013 and provides a clear and proactive process for identifying, preventing, and removing barriers. The AMA aims to eliminate barriers by developing accessibility standards for government, public and private-sector organizations, including municipalities, businesses, and not-for-profit organizations, to implement.
Following the review, a report will be produced on the findings, outlining recommendations to the minister responsible for accessibility to improve the effectiveness of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. It is anticipated the review will begin in March and the final report, with recommendations, will be completed before the end of the year.
British Columbia Officially Recognized Additional Holiday
The BC government has introduced a bill to make September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a provincial statutory holiday. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was first recognized by Canada in 2021 and is already recognized as a federal statutory holiday.
As September 30 will now be a provincial statutory holiday in British Columbia, it will be added to the list of general holidays observed under BC Employment Standards Act. Employers will therefore be required to provide employees with paid time off beginning on September 30, 2023.
Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increase
An additional update has come in since last month to Nova Scotia’s minimum wage.
Minimum wage will now be increasing from $13.60 to $14.50 per hour effective April 1, 2023. It will then increase to $15.00 per hour on October 1, 2023, six months earlier than initially scheduled. Starting April 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate will be adjusted on an annual basis.
Inflationary pressures led the Nova Scotia government to revise its December 2021 recommendations on minimum wage increases. Due to the unforeseen and significant increase in inflation in 2022, and what is now forecast for 2023, the increases to minimum wage recommended in the December 2021 report would not have had the expected impact on the purchasing power of minimum wage earners.
Medical Marijuana: Increased difficulty for zero-tolerance policies
Dealing with medical marijuana in the workplace continues to present significant challenges for employers when trying to balance employee privacy and human rights with workplace safety. Marijuana, although legal to use and posses, has the potential to impair. Employers are entitled to implement policies to attempt to control the use of marijuana in the workplace. At the same time, employers may also have to contend with an employee’s privacy rights and right to accommodation. This is a delicate balance.
Zero-tolerance policies are unreasonable
While employers are entitled to implement policies regarding the disclosure and use of medical marijuana in safety-sensitive work environments, the growing consensus among labour arbitrators is that zero-tolerance policies are unreasonable.
Takeaways for employers
As medical cannabis use continues to increase, employers should create strong policies for dealing with medical marijuana use and accommodation requests. While zero-tolerance policies should be avoided, it does not mean that all medical marijuana use is reasonable in safety-sensitive workplaces, and disclosure should be required.
When considering all possible accommodations, employers must consider the specific circumstances of each case. Independent medical examinations can be used to assess the impact of medical marijuana use on a specific user’s fitness for duty to help determine what, if any, accommodations are possible. Employers can require disclosure and request the following information, subject to ensuring appropriate privacy and confidentiality safeguards are in place:
- Is it medically authorized?
- How is it being used (e.g., smoking, inhaling, ingesting, vaping)? What is the dose?
- What is the frequency of use? What time is it used?
- What adverse affects arise from use?
- What workplace limitations are associated with use?
- Is the employee able to safely perform their job?
- Any addictions?
Employers should also keep an eye out for labour law developments relating to self-medication. Since the legalization of marijuana, more and more individuals are using marijuana to cope with their medical conditions without authorization from a healthcare professional, presenting additional challenges to employers.
At People First HR, we can support your organization in policy reviews and creation to ensure that you are legally compliant with the ever-changing landscape. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your next policy project.
Manitoba Minimum Wage Increase
Manitoba’s minimum wage will be increasing from $13.50 to $14.15 per hour effective April 1, 2023. The province will then return to annual adjustments based on provincial Consumer Price Index (CPI) and project the hourly rate to increase to $15.00 per hour effective October 1, 2023.
As a reminder within Manitoba, effective October 1, 2022, the government repealed the fixed security guard minimum wage of $12.50 per hour as set under the Employment Standards Code. This means that minimum working wage for everyone in Manitoba is currently $13.50 per hour.
Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increase
Nova Scotia’s minimum wage will be increasing from $13.60 to $14.30 per hour effective April 1, 2023. Over the next couple of years, the province plans to increase minimum wage twice annually, in April and October.
Upcoming Canadian Holiday
The next public holiday in Canada is on the third Monday in February and is referred to most commonly as Family Day but has a different name in certain provinces.
Monday, February 20, 2023, is a public holiday in
- British Columbia,
- Manitoba (Louis Riel Day),
- Nova Scotia (Heritage Day),
- Prince Edward Island (Islander Day), and
- New Brunswick.
Employees in these provinces are eligible for a day off with pay.
For more information on what general holiday pay means and what happens if an employee works on a holiday, refer to your provincial employment standards site or reach out to People First HR On Call to ensure you are prepared for the upcoming general holiday.
Manitoba Right to Refuse Work on Sunday
Did you know legislation was updated to provide workers in Manitoba the right to refuse to work on Sundays?
As of December 3, 2021, employees have the right to refuse work on a Sunday except in the following circumstances:
- Employees who agree in writing at the time of being hired to work on Sunday’s
- Employees under a collective agreement that provides that the employee must not refuse to work on Sundays
- Employees who work in a retail business establishment where the number of persons, including the owner, employed for the sale of goods or services does not ordinarily exceed four persons at any one time.
Should you have an employee attempting to exercise this right, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer and ensure you’re following the current legislation. There are also opportunities upon hire to ensure employees are aware of the requirements to work Sundays and outline requirements within their employment contract upon hire.
For more information on how People First can support you in legislation interpretation and application, contact us!
Ontario WSIB Eliminates Paper Statements
Starting January 1, 2023, WSIB Ontario account statements will be available exclusively through the WSIB online services and they will no longer be mailing paper statements. Businesses should sign up for an online services account right away to receive their statement and view their account balance without any service disruption.
Prince Edward Island Permanent Emergency Leave
The Prince Edward Island government announced changes to the Emergency Leave Regulations under the Employment Standards Act to ensure workers have job protection when they are sick due to a communicable disease.
This leave was originally introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide job-protected time for employees required to self-isolate under orders by the Chief Public Health Office. Since the mandatory isolation requirements have now ended, regulations have been changed to continue to support workers and make Emergency Leave permanent and available beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
The revised regulations outline that employees may use Emergency Leave for certain types of communicable diseases other than Covid-19 (but including Covid-19). When an individual has been diagnosed with a disease transmitted by respiratory route, such as Covid-19 or influenza, and has been advised to stay home from work by a medical practitioner they can be eligible.
This leave provides employees with unpaid time away from work and job protection for the duration of their contagious period based on the advice of a medical professional. The regulation changes came into effect on December 10, 2022.
PEI Minimum Wage Increase
Effective January 1, 2023, minimum wage will increase to $14.50 per hour in PEI. Current minimum wage in PEI is $13.70 per hour.
PEI Pay Transparency
Earlier this summer, effective June 1, 2022, Bill 119 amended the PEI Employment Standards Act to add new pay transparency provisions. The Act now outlines the following:
- Employers are required to publish the expected pay or pay range in public job postings
- Employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s salary history
- Employers are prohibited from preventing employees from discussing their wages with other employees.
Here are three tips to help employers adjust to PEI’s new pay transparency provisions:
- You can post a broad range: The Act requires employers to post a range or expected pay for a position for external job postings viewed by the general public in any manner. This would include jobs posted on job sites, company websites, and public job boards. A few exceptions are general help wanted signs, recruitment campaigns, and jobs posted only internally for existing employees.
- You can ask employees about their pay expectations: The Act now prevents employers from seeking any information, through any means, relating to an applicant’s pay history. However, employers can still ask candidates about their pay expectations when discussing a new opportunity.
- Be cautious of wage confidentiality clauses: The Act now includes (Section 5.10) a new anti-reprisal provision prohibiting employers from penalizing, in any way, an employee for asking for information about their pay or discussing pay with other employees. Employees can seek further information about their pay and discuss compensation internally with other employees. If prior to June 1, 2022, an employment contract contained confidentiality clauses prohibiting employees from engaging in these types of internal discussions about wages, such clauses may no longer be effective.
It is important for employers to note these changes and review their recruitment practices, policies, and employment contracts to ensure compliance and any restrictions on pay-related discussions comply with the Act’s new pay transparency provisions.
More information on pay transparency can be found on www.princeedwardisland.ca.
Nova Scotia Introduces End of Pregnancy Leave
On October 14, 2022, the Nova Scotia government first proposed Bill 203, Labour Standards Code to ensure an employee who experiences the end of a pregnancy can take a protected leave from work. The bill received royal assent on November 9, 2022, and will take effect on January 1, 2023. “End of pregnancy” means a pregnancy that ends other than resulting in a live birth.
The amendments approved ensure employees have access to:
- An unpaid leave of absence of up to five (5) consecutive working days for a pregnancy that does not result in a live birth.
- An unpaid leave of up to sixteen (16) weeks upon the employee experiencing an end of pregnancy after the 19th week of the employee’s pregnancy.
An employee would be eligible for an unpaid leave of absence of up to five (5) consecutive working days when:
- The employee experiences an end of pregnancy
- The employee’s spouse experiences an end of pregnancy
- The employee’s former spouse experiences an end of pregnancy, and the employee would have been the biological parent of a child born as a result of the pregnancy
- Another person experiences an end of pregnancy, and the employee would have become the parent of a child born as a result of the pregnancy under a surrogacy agreement
- Another person experiences an end of pregnancy, and the employee would have become the parent of a child born as a result of the pregnancy under an intended adoption pursuant to the laws of the province
An employee who experiences an end of pregnancy while on pregnancy leave, is entitled to, at the employee’s option:
- The remainder of the leave; or
- Where the employee has taken more than ten (10) weeks of pregnancy leave, up to an additional six (6) weeks of unpaid leave of absence, starting on the day the end of pregnancy occurs.
An employee must give the employer as much notice as is reasonably practicable of the employee’s intention to take a leave of absence.
Where an employee begins a leave of absence before advising the employer, the employee will advise the employer as soon as is reasonably practicable of the date the leave began and the anticipated end date of the leave.
The employer may ask to justify the need for the leave. All justification must be in a form approved by the director, in support of the employee’s entitlement to the leave as may be prescribed by the regulations or, in the absence of applicable regulations, as is reasonable in the circumstances.
Changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance Program
As part of Budget 2022, the Canadian government is making changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program to better meet the evolving needs of Canadian workers and employers.
EI Sick Benefits
Budget 2022 indicates that EI sickness benefits will increase from 15 to 26 weeks as of December 12, 2022. This means an approved absence could be extended up to a full 26 weeks under the revised program.
Employers who offer their employees short-term disability (STD) through their group benefits plan will need to align their plan with the new 26-week period.
Employers who do not offer STD but have their employees claiming EI benefits prior to being eligible for long-term disability (LTD) through their group benefits plan will need to adjust their LTD elimination period to align with the new 26-week period.
Current information on this change can be found through Employment and Social Development Canada. Additional information will likely be provided in the coming weeks and months.
As an employer, in addition to changes required with your group benefits plan, consider what company policies will require updates (anything that speaks to information around general sick leave, and both long-term and short-term disability.) This could be a leave of absence policy, sick leave policy, or content within a handbook or company manual.
At People First HR, we can support your organization in policy reviews and creation to ensure that you are legally compliant with the ever-changing landscape. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your next policy project.
International students’ hours of work limitations to be temporarily lifted
Last month the federal government announced that from November 15, 2022, to December 31, 2023, international students in Canada who have an off-campus work authorization on their study permit can work more than 20 hours per week while class is in session. This also applies to those who have submitted a study permit application as of October 7, 2022.
Currently, international students who apply to study in an eligible Canadian educational program may receive approval to work up to 20 hours per week while studying. The limit does not apply during winter and summer breaks. This temporary change means international students can now work a standard number of hours, in line with provincial employment standards.
The government hopes the temporary change will alleviate the labour shortage in Canada and assist international students with the cost-of-living increases, placing added value on international students’ work within the Canadian economy.
More information on this topic can be found from www.immigration.ca
If you employ international students, there is an opportunity to review their work schedule and adjust hours as is mutually beneficial for the employee and your organization. Keep in mind that an increase in hours is only temporary and could impact the employment status of the employee and group benefits eligibility.
If you have questions about updated legislation or how these upcoming changes could impact your business, consider a membership with HR OnCall. Your first call is free.
Paid medical leave for federally regulated employees
Federally regulated employees entitled to paid medical leave
Federally regulated employees are currently entitled to time off for illness under personal leave.
Effective December 1, 2022, employees will be entitled to 10 days of paid medical leave per year, which will replace the coverage for illness under personal leave.
|Current coverage||Updated coverage|
|When ill, employees are entitled to five days under personal leave:|
3 days of paid leave
2 days of unpaid leave
|Paid medical leave will provide employees with:|
10 days of paid leave
Federally regulated employees will accrue paid medical leave as follows:
- three days after 30 days of continuous employment
- one day at the beginning of the month
Employees can earn up to 10 days per calendar year.
Each paid day must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of wage for their normal hours of work, and that pay will, for all purposes, be considered wages.
Federally regulated employees include (but are not limited to) those working in banks, postal and courier services, air transportation, the federal public service, and most federal crown corporations.
Annual carry forward
The annual entitlement for paid days of medical leave in a calendar year is capped at 10. Employees can carry over unused paid medical leave of absence days to the next calendar year, however, each day carried over will count toward the 10-day maximum in the new year, which starts January 1. This means paid leave days that can be earned in the following year are reduced proportionately.
For example, if an employee carries over one day, they may only earn nine additional days in the subsequent year, totalling their 10-day maximum.
Notice and justification to the leave
Employers can require an employee to provide a certificate issued by a healthcare provider certifying that they are unable to work for the period of their medical leave of absence, if the leave is for at least five consecutive days.
Employers are required to make such a request in writing and must do so no later than 15 days after the employee returns to work.
Taking the leave
While the leave can be taken in one or more periods of time, employers are entitled to require that each period of leave be no less than one day.
Employers are required to maintain an employee’s pension, health and disability benefits while they are away on medical leave. The employee is responsible for any contributions normally required and must pay them within a reasonable amount of time. The employer must continue to pay the same share of contributions as if the employee were not on leave. For the purpose of calculating any other company provided benefits, the employee’s employment is deemed continuous upon returning from leave. Seniority also accrues during the period of leave and the employment is considered continuous.
The employee must be reinstated back to their position at the end of the medical leave of absence. If the employee becomes disabled and unable to perform the essential duties of the job, the employer is required, where it is reasonable, to modify the employee’s duties or reassign the employee to another position.
Employers may not dismiss, lay off, suspend, demote, or discipline an employee who is absent due to illness or injury if the employee is entitled to the leave. The employer may reassign the employee to a different job with different employment conditions if, after returning from the leave, the employee cannot do their previous job.
For support understanding your leave policy requirements and for assistance with implementing a practical leave process for your organization, contact HR OnCall. Your first call is free if you’re not a member yet.
Right to Disconnect policy requirement – Ontario
Employers with 25 or more employees in Ontario are required to have a written policy on disconnecting from work.
The term “disconnecting from work” is defined in the Employee Standards Act (ESA) to mean not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, to be free from the performance of work.
Requirements were originally added to the ESA December 2, 2021. By March 1, 2023, employers are required to have a written policy if they employ 25 or more employees.
Written policy requirements
The policy should specify an employee’s right to not perform work as established through other ESA rules, including:
- hours of work and eating periods,
- vacation with pay, and
- public holidays.
The written policy must be applicable to all employees. This includes management, executives, and shareholders if they are employees. The employer may decide to implement various policies for different types of employees. The written policy can be a stand-alone document, or it may be part of another document, policy, or procedure manual.
Some examples of what “disconnecting from work” may address include:
- The employers’ expectations, if any, of employees to read or reply to work-related emails or answer work-related phone calls after their shift is over.
- Addressing expectations with specific situations such as, when communication is expected, the subject matter of the communication expected, or details on who may be contacting the employee such as a client, supervisor, or colleague and requirements to respond.
- The employers’ requirements for employees turning on out-of-office notifications and/or changing their voicemail messages, when they are not scheduled to work, to communicate that they will not be responding until the next scheduled workday.
It is best practice to adopt a Right to Disconnect policy and recommended that employers understand if they are required to have a policy based on the 25-employee threshold. From there think about your organization perspective of the possible content required.
The Ontario government has provided additional information on Right to Disconnect policies on its website.
Upcoming changes to Ontario Electronic Monitoring policy
Once again, Ontario is leading the charge for changing legislation, this time with updates to electronic monitoring for businesses.
Ontario is the first province to require transparency regarding electronic monitoring of employees’ digital work. Passed in April 2022, the act outlines how employers are required to create and maintain an electronic monitoring policy and undertake a variety of obligations with any use of tools associated with electronic monitoring including computers, cellphones, and GPS systems amongst other devices.
The lesson for employers is that they should implement unambiguous written policies that address both permitted employee usage of computers, as well as access and monitoring details of the computer or device by the employer. The policies should put employees on notice as to the circumstances in which the employer will access information on its computers or its network more broadly. The policies should confirm that data sent over the network remains the property of the employer and that employees who wish to maintain privacy in personal communications or other information should not send communication over the employer’s network.
Employers with 25 or more employees have until October 11, 2022, to have a written policy in place.
The focus of the policy requirements is on transparency of the employer’s practices and expectations, specifically the following:
- A statement as to whether the employer engages in electronic monitoring of employees. Examples could include using GPS to track the movement of an employee’s delivery vehicle or software that tracks the websites that employees visit during work hours.
- Where the employer does electronically monitor employees, the policy must also contain:
- A description of how the employer may electronically monitor employees.
- A description of when; outlining the circumstances in which the employer may electronically monitor employees. For example, the employer monitors the employee’s movement in the vehicle for the entire workday, every workday, or the employer may monitor any time employee emails and online chats.
- A description of why; outlining the purposes for which information obtained through electronic monitoring may be used by the employer. For example, the employer uses the information obtained to assist in setting routes for employee safety, ensure employees do not deviate from their delivery route during their shift and discipline employees who are untruthful about their whereabouts during working hours. Or, for example, they use may be to evaluate employee performance, to ensure the appropriate use of employer equipment and to ensure work is being performed during working hours.
- Date the policy was prepared and the date any changes were made.
Next steps for your business
As a good first step, employers are recommended to conduct a thorough review of their workforce to determine if they use technology that monitors employees’ activities or work and if they meet the 25-employee threshold.
If so, draft a policy and review any current policies for potential modification requirements and ensure no existing policy provisions are at risk of violating the electronic monitoring policy requirements.
A copy of the policy must be provided to each employee considering acceptable formats and timeframes.
Asking yourself where to start? People First HR can support policy review and creation, communication, and maintenance. We partner with organizations to ensure compliance with the ever-changing landscape. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your next policy project.
Minimum wage updates across Canada
Although minimum wage rates went up in multiple provinces in the spring of 2022, yet another increase is coming soon, and businesses are urged to prepare for how this change may impact them and their employees. Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee.
|Province||Current minimum wage |
|Minimum wage |
Effective October 1, 2022
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$13.20||$13.70|
If you have questions about updated legislation or how these upcoming changes could impact your business, consider a membership with HR OnCall, your first call is free!
EI benefits are changing
Starting September 25, 2022, the temporary changes that were made to Employment Insurance (EI) to assist Canadians’ access to benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer be in effect. On September 25, the program will revert to its original framework.
For the last year, temporary measures have been in place where workers qualify for EI (regular and special benefits) based on a national requirement of having 420 insurable employment hours. This measure is reverting to the original framework requiring 420 to 700 hours depending on the regional unemployment rate to access regular EI benefits.
Learn more about how different EI benefit types will be affected.
Secondly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, special measures were put in place for the Work-Sharing Program where employers and employees would mutually benefit to avoid employee layoffs. These measures extended the duration of Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks followed by a possible new 26-week subsequent agreement.
These special measures are set to expire on September 25, 2022. Learn more.
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