Compliance Alert: Increase to Minimum Wage and Ministry of Labour Announces New Employment Standards Blitz

The Ministry of Labour has announced a targeted compliance blitz focused on “repeat violators” of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA). The blitz will take place during both September and October 2016. Although the Ministry did not define “repeat violators,” it is safe to assume that it refers to employers who have been prior recipients of compliance orders or successful claims under the ESA.

The employment standards officers conducting the blitz have been instructed to take a zero tolerance approach toward repeat offenders under the ESA.  Ministry of Labour inspectors have the ability to make orders and recommend fines on the basis of a site inspection alone and it appears that this blitz is intended to encourage a broader use of those powers in order to encourage greater adherence to the ESA by repeat offenders. The Ministry has created a video guide to workplace inspections, which is available on YouTube. If you receive advance notice of an inspection we strongly recommend reaching out to your employment lawyers to discuss how you should prepare and respond.

The blitz will be focused primarily on employers in professional services, amusement and recreation industries and the personal care services industry, which the Ministry notes as areas in which precarious employment is common. Employers in these industries are well advised to conduct a review of their practices to ensure that they are up-to-date with provincial minimum standards with respect to holiday pay, overtime, hours of work, vacation with pay, wage statements, posting requirements and other common areas of non-compliance.

Employers should also be mindful of the fact that the general minimum wage increases from $11.25 per hour to $11.40 per hour, student minimum wage increases to $10.70 per hour and the liquor servers’ minimum wage increases to $9.90 per hour.  All changes take effect as of October 1, 2016, which is in the midst of the Ministry of Labour’s blitz.

If you would like further information about this matter or if you would like assistance with conducting a self-audit for ESA compliance, please contact Laurie Jessome or any other member of the Cassels Brock Employment and Labour Group.

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