Employment and Legislation Updates

Employment and Legislation Updates

Stay up to date with the latest employment and legislation updates in Canada. List updated monthly.

If you have questions about the legislation updates or how the changes could impact your business, consider a membership with HR OnCall. Your first call is free!

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Recent updates

February 2023

January 2023

December 2022

November 2022

October 2022

September 2022

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As a reminder within Manitoba, effective October 1, 2022, the government repealed the fixed security guard minimum wage of $12.50 per hour as set under the Employment Standards Code.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.

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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.

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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,
  • Alberta,
  • Saskatchewan,
  • Manitoba (Louis Riel Day),
  • Ontario,
  • 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

  1. 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.

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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.

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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.

Employer considerations

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.

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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

Employer considerations

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.

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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 coverageUpdated 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.

Employee benefits

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.

Reinstatement

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.

Job protection

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.  

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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.

Content

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.

Next steps

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.

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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.

Policy requirements

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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.

ProvinceCurrent minimum wage
(per hour)
Minimum wage
Effective October 1, 2022
(per hour)
Saskatchewan$11.81$13.00
Manitoba$11.95$13.50
Ontario$15.00$15.50
Nova Scotia$13.35$13.60
New Brunswick$12.75$13.75
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!

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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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