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Bill 203 & Workplace Pay Laws

Although the provincial election is less than 3 months away, the current government is continuing in its drive to make changes to workplace laws in Ontario.  Here is a breakdown of 2 recently announced initiatives:

BILL 203 – THE PAY TRANSPARENCY ACT

This Bill is intended address wage gaps between men and women, as well as increase pay transparency.

Key Highlights

• For all public job postings, employers will be required to include the expected compensation rate or compensation range.  Currently, compensation rates or ranges are not mandatory in job postings and compensation negotiations are part of the hiring process.

• Employers will be prohibited from asking prospective hires about their prior compensation history.  But candidates can still elect to voluntarily disclose this information.

• Employers will be prohibited from taking any punitive measures against employees  for the following:

o Requesting information pertaining to compensation.
o Disclosing their compensation to other employees.
o Seeking employer compliance with this legislation.

• Certain prescribed employers will be required to prepare transparency reports covering information their workforce composition and differences in employee compensation based on gender and other prescribed characteristics.  These reports must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour and post the reports in places within the workplace where all employees will have access to them.

The reporting requirements will be implemented in phases, beginning with the Ontario Public Service, then applying to employers with more than 500 employees, and subsequently to employers with more than 250 employees.

• Ministry of Labour compliance officers will have broad powers to conduct investigations and compliance audits to ensure employers are meeting their obligations under the legislation.

Conclusion

Bill 203 has only passed first reading, and it is uncertain at this time whether Bill 203 will become law and if so, when.  However if passed, Bill 203 will directly impact hiring practices for many employers and create new compensation tracking and reporting requirements for larger organizations.

BILL 18 – STRONGER WORKPLACE FOR A STRONGER ECONOMY ACT, 2014

This Bill received royal assent in 2014.  However, the provisions pertaining to amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 did not come into force.

On March 8th, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn confirmed to the Toronto Star that the amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 will be coming into force on a yet-to-be confirmed date.

Key Highlights

  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 will now define a “temporary help agency” as an employer “who primarily engages in the business of lending or hiring out the services of its workers to other employers on a temporary basis for a fee.”
  • In the event an employee of a temporary help agency is injured at the workplace of another employer, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) may in its discretion:

o Deem the wages paid by the temporary help agency to have been paid by the other employer for the purpose of experience rating programs.
o Attribute the accident and injury related costs to the other employer.
o Increase the other employer’s WSIB premiums based on accidents and injuries sustained by workers supplied by temporary help agencies.

Conclusion

When this comes into force, employers will now be accountable for injuries sustained by temporary help workers, and they can no longer limit their liability for accidents.

We will keep you posted on developments as they arise.  In the interim, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Nav Bhandal
Labour and Employment Law Group
(905) 276-0408
nbhandal@kmblaw.com

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This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice on their specific situations.

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