In November 2014, Bill 18, Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 (“the Act”), received Royal Assent. Since this time, multiple changes have already been implemented with many more coming into force every few months. Schedule 2 to this Act deals specifically with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“the ESA”).
Three months after the Act received Royal Assent (February 20, 2015), the $10,000 cap for the recovery of unpaid wages pursuant to the ESA that become due on or after this date was removed. Similarly, for any unpaid wages pursuant to the ESA that became due on or after February 20, 2015, the recovery period has increased from six months to two years.
Six months after the Act received Royal Assent (May 20, 2015), another major change occurred: the creation of a new version of the Employment Standards Poster – “What you need to know” (version 6.0) – that is published by the Ministry of Labour. This poster, which outlines employees’ rights and employers’ responsibilities at work, must be displayed in at least one conspicuous location in the workplace and must be provided to all new employees within 30 days of their date of hire.
Furthermore, from the day the Act received Royal Assent, a section bringing changes to an employee’s minimum wage was added, even though the changes will only come into effect on October 1, 2015. That is, starting from this date, and on October 1 of every year thereafter, the minimum wage that applied to a class of employees immediately before October 1 shall be adjusted as follows:
Previous wage x (Index A/Index B) = Adjusted wage
- “Previous wage” is the minimum wage that applied immediately prior to October 1 of that year;
- “Index A” is the Consumer Price Index for the previous calendar year;
- “Index B” is the Consumer Price Index for the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year mentioned in Index A; and
- “Adjusted wage” is the new minimum wage.
Given the above changes, future increases to Ontario’s minimum wage will now be tied to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario. The Minister has until April 1 of every year to publish on a Government of Ontario website the minimum wages that are to apply starting on October 1 of that year.
Another change that will come into force as of October 1, 2015 is the increase to the minimum wage in Ontario, which will rise from $11.00 per hour to $11.25 per hour.
Changes to the ESA as a result of the Act will continue to occur over the next couple of years. It is important for employers and employees alike to be aware of these changes, as failure to comply with them could lead to avoidable consequences. If you are unsure of the above changes and how they apply to you or your business, speak to an employment lawyer.