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Employment Standards Code Changes are Effective January 1: Are You Ready?
Workwise Newsletter

As outlined in our previous alerts, almost all of the changes to the Employment Standards Code (the “Code”) brought in by the Fair and Family- Friendly Workplaces Act come into effect on January 1, 2018. Employers should take the following steps now to ensure that they are prepared:

1. Review human resources policies

  • Pay particular attention to the following policies, if you have them, and ensure they comply with the changed provisions under the Code:
    • Overtime and overtime agreements
    • Unpaid leaves (several new leaves have been added and the requirements for others changed)
    • Temporary layoffs
    • Hours of work
    • General holidays
    • Deductions from earnings
  • If you have a compressed work week arrangement in place it will remain valid until its stated expiry or January 1, 2019, whichever is earlier. After that, employers will have to use averaging agreements and get the agreement of the specific employee or the majority of a group of employees.
  • Once the revisions are complete, have employees review and sign off to confirm they have reviewed the revised policies. Consider having the employees review all HR policies as a refresher.
  • This is a good opportunity to review and update all human resources policies.

2. Review employment agreements

  • Any provision in the employment agreement that provides the employee with less than the minimums prescribed by the Code will be invalid.  
  • Ensure there is no specific reference in the agreement to a Code provision that has been changed or change the reference to align with the new Code requirements.
    • Note that for existing employees this may involve entering into a new employment agreement with revised provisions or both the employee and employer signing a written agreement outlining the changes – legal advice is probably a good idea in this case. 

3. Review standard practices 

  • For matters that may not be included in a policy or employment agreement but are a matter of practice, ensure the practice aligns with the changes to the Code. This may include such things as:
    • Breaks or rest periods
    • Terminations (for example: you will no longer be able to require an employee to use banked overtime, vacation time or holiday time during the termination notice period) 

4. Inform and train your managers, supervisors and HR personnel 

  • ​​They need to understand the changes to the Code and resulting changes to policies and practices and how this impacts the workplace.
  • Should include all personnel who make decisions regarding Code related matters, such as those employees who approve leaves of absences, payroll (overtime and general holiday pay changes), etc. 

If you require assistance with the review and revision of policies, practices or employment agreements, or with understanding the changes to the Code, our Field Law Labour & Employment Group lawyers are here to help.