Significant Changes to Provincial Employment and Labour Standards Legislation Important to Watch
Employment and labour standards are changing constantly. And recently, Ontario, Alberta and several other provinces made significant changes, including amendments to: public holiday pay, paid personal emergency days (including for part-time employees), parental and compassionate care leaves, and minimum wage, to name a few.
These changes affect employers — employee remuneration can be impacted, payroll and human resources processes and systems affected, and audit and penalty risks increased. The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) monitors these changes, communicating the impacts to payroll, and helping organizations navigate the varying jurisdictional fluctuations. To stay up-to-date, improve compliance, mitigate risk and facilitate efficient administration, employers, and payroll, human resource and accounting professionals should consult the CPA's compliance resources and training opportunities, including the newly updated Employment Standards seminar.
What's at Stake?
Employment standards cover an entire host of workplace facets, everything from payment of overtime hours to termination pay. In Alberta, contravention of the Employment Standards Code carries a penalty of up to $100,000. Repeated contraventions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) in Ontario can cost organizations up to $500,000.
While these fines are for extreme cases, failure to comply with the prescribed employment and labour standards of any jurisdiction your organization operates in can impact you. Under the Ontario ESA, offences such as failure to pay overtime, which can stem from employer misunderstanding or oversight, will cost a minimum of $295 plus applicable costs and victim fine surcharges. CPA membership, which provides resources to mitigate the risk of non-compliance, costs as little as $235 annually.
Many provinces are stepping up their enforcement measures, hiring more enforcement officers to investigate organizations, increasing penalties for employment standards violations, and publishing names of non-compliant organizations.
Beyond the obvious monetary risk, employment standards infractions also pose reputational risk, both to employees overseeing compliance and to the organization. They can also increase an organization's risk for future audit by an Employment Standards officer, or other government departments or agencies.
Resources to Help You and Your Organization
Education is vital to ensuring organizations know and comply with their employment and labour standards requirements. The CPA offers a host of education opportunities that support payroll, accounting and HR practitioners in fulfilling their legal obligations.
The popular Employment Standards seminar, provides a comprehensive, plain-language review of employment standards by jurisdiction with hands-on exercises covering: hours of work, public holidays, paid and unpaid leaves, vacation, termination and records retention.
Bi-monthly legislative compliance newsletter e-Source is delivered electronically to CPA members across the country with updates on the latest changes affecting organizations' regulatory requirements impacting payroll. CPA members, which include 90 of Canada's top 100 companies, also benefit from Payroll InfoLine, an email and phone Q & A service, staffed by payroll professionals with more than 250 years of combined experience. In 2017, questions related to employment and labour standards accounted for the highest volume of the 40,000 inquiries to the CPA's InfoLine.
Canada's 1.5 million employers rely on payroll practitioners to ensure the timely and accurate annual payment of $929 billion in wages and taxable benefits, $310 billion in statutory remittances to the federal and provincial governments, and $180 billion in health and retirement benefits, while complying with more than 200 federal and provincial regulatory requirements. Since 1978, the Canadian Payroll Association has annually influenced the payroll compliance practices and processes of over 500,000 organizational payrolls. As the authoritative source of Canadian payroll compliance knowledge, the Canadian Payroll Association promotes payroll compliance through education and advocacy.