Top 4 HR Compliance Mistakes to Avoid

Every day HR professionals may be asked to answer a range of compliance questions. For example, is an employee entitled to public holiday pay? How do we respond to an employee’s harassment complaint? What information do we have to post in the workplace?

To determine the answers to these (and many other HR compliance questions) it is necessary to look at the applicable employment legislation. Unfortunately, legislation – and the process for updating it – is incredibly complex in Canada. This means that there are several pitfalls that HR professionals may encounter.

Here are the top mistakes to avoid when answering your HR compliance questions.

#1 Reviewing laws of the wrong jurisdiction

Canada HR legislationBecause Canadian employment law requirements tend to vary from one province to the next, it is important to make sure you are looking at the requirements of the right jurisdiction. This may seem obvious, but the pandemic has made applying the correct legislation more complicated.

Prior to the pandemic, an employer may have been used to following the laws of the province where their business is located. With more workplaces shifting toward a remote workforce, however, some employers may have unexpectedly become subject to employment laws in multiple provinces.

Generally speaking, the law of the province where an employee is physically located will be the law that applies to that employee. For example, this means that if you are a Manitoba employer, but you have an employee who moves to PEI and works remotely from there, you must meet the PEI employment standards with respect to that employee. However, this general rule is not absolute and it is important to consider whether the legislation has any specific rules regarding work outside the province. For further details, see our earlier post: Has Remote Work Made You A Multi-Jurisdictional Employer?

#2 Missing a change to HR compliance legislation

Every year, governments across Canada make changes to HR legislation. In the last 12 months, Compliance Works has reported 350+ amendments!

It is easy to lose track of all of these changes. And if you rely on external sources, such as law firm or industry association newsletters, they are often delayed and are unlikely to cover all of the changes. Even many governments do not update their legislation websites in a timely manner.

So, to pull together the current requirements you may be checking the legislation PLUS any amending Bills.

#3 Finding an amendment and thinking it is in force, when it is not

While you don’t want to miss a key amendment, it is also important to understand when an amendment comes into force. A common mistake is assuming that all amendments come into force on Royal Assent.

An amending Bill will specify when each section comes into force. Many amendments come into force on Royal Assent, but that’s not always the case.

Bills also include two other options:

  1. Amendments may come into force on a specific date or after a particular event specified in the Bill. 
  2. Or, the Bill may say that it comes into force on a date to be proclaimed.  This means that at any date in the future, the government can make an order saying that the Bill is now in force. 

So, before making changes in response to a legislative amendment, first check to see if it is in force.

#4 Failing to pull together all of the relevant requirements

HR compliance

To answer an HR compliance question, you need to pull together all of the relevant requirements, which can be found in multiple places.

First, check the Act. Unfortunately, related requirements are not always in the same section or chapter – rather, they may be found throughout an Act. And definitions may provide further insight too.

Next, look at the Regulations. While the Act will set out the general requirement, the regulations will dive into the details.


Reviewing legislation to determine your compliance obligations probably sounds like a pain! It certainly can be. That’s why Compliance Works is on a mission to solve this problem.

In a nutshell, Compliance Works provides summaries of employment laws in plain English – so that HR teams can get to the heart of what matters, quickly. Automated systems track and report important legislation changes in real time.

To see if Compliance Works can help you answer your HR compliance questions, sign up for a free trial. Or, if you would like to ask a few questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.