Hiring employees creates compliance responsibilities for employers in Ontario. But less experienced businesses and non-profits may not know that adding more employees can make their organization responsible for complying with additional employment law requirements. When organizations in Ontario hire even one (1) employee they are required to comply with a number of HR laws including:
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)
- Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)
- Human Rights Code
- Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA).
The amount of employment legislation and related regulations grows larger and more complex as the number of an organization’s employees grows.
Compliance Works publishes easy-to-understand summaries in eight (8) areas of employment law across Canada, and routinely alerts its customers to the changes which may impact their operations, policies and procedures. Lesha Van Der Bij, CEO and co-founder of Compliance Works has developed a quick reference guide for Ontario employers as an infographic to help HR professionals and employers understand responsibilities as a business expands from 1 to 200 employees.
Who is included as an Employee?
For purposes of determining employee numbers, an employee is (generally) a person who performs work or supplies services to the organization for monetary compensation. However, as is often the case with employment legislation, there are exceptions, including:
- Health and Safety: OHSA requirements are based on a definition of “worker”, which includes secondary and post-secondary school students who perform work or supply services for no monetary compensation under certain approved work experience programs.
- Employment Standards: Under the ESA, employees include persons who receive training from the employer, if the training relates to a skill used by the employer’s employees. The ESA also considers homeworkers to be employees.
- Pay Equity: The Pay Equity Act applies to all employers with 10 or more employees, but this does not include students employed for their vacation period.
Hiring Employees? See how requirements for HR compliance multiply.
Once an employer has six employees, a number of health and safety requirements apply. Employers must:
- prepare and review a written health and safety policy (at least once a year), and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy;
- cause a health and safety representative* to be selected by the non-managerial workers or, where applicable, a union;
- include additional items in their first aid box (as compared to employers with less than 6 employees); and
- ensure that their first aid attendant has a valid St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid Certificate or its equivalent.
*Health and safety representative must perform certain health and safety duties. For example, at least once per month, they must inspect the physical condition of the workplace or part of the workplace (where it is impractical to inspect the entire workplace each month).
As noted above, pay equity requirements kick in once an employer has 10 employees. In addition, employers with 10 or more employees must provide a reasonably private room with one or more cots and chairs for employees, unless such facilities are provided at a first-aid station.
Employers with 16 or more employees must include additional supplies in their first aid box.
Instead of a health and safety representative (see above), employers with 20 or more employees must have a health and safety committee. Committees tend to have more expansive duties than representatives, and they meet at least once every three months during working hours.
Private sector employers with 20+ employees also have to file accessibility reports regarding the customer service accessibility standard every 3 years. Customer service standards apply to all organizations that provide goods, services or facilities. These organizations must implement accessibility processes related to customer services (e.g., feedback procedures, notice of public of disruptions, accessibility policies, and training).
Ontario recently added two new mandatory policies for employers with 25 or more employees: disconnecting from work and electronic monitoring. A disconnecting from work policy may address issues such as responding to work-related emails or phone calls outside regular work hours, while an electronic monitoring policy requires employers to be transparent about their electronic monitoring practices.
Once an employer has 35 or more workers, they must provide a place suitable for eating. (This also applies to smaller workplaces where there is potential exposure to a substance that is poisonous by ingestion.)
Several accessibility requirements under AODA are triggered when a private sector employer has 50 employees. These employers must:
- retain accessibility training records;
- file an accessibility report regarding all applicable accessibility standards* every 3 years;
- establish, implement, maintain, document and post a multi-year accessibility plan, outlining their strategy to prevent and remove barriers.
*These accessibility standards include employment standards, which require all employers to ensure the accessibility of their workplace (e.g., establishing emergency procedures and individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities).
In addition, group notice requirements are triggered when an employer terminates 50 or more employees within a 4 week period.
Employers with 200+ workers in any shift must provide and maintain an easily accessible first aid room.
How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals
Compliance with constantly changing employment laws and ongoing changes can be challenging and time consuming, especially for new business owners, small organizations and non-profits in Ontario. Compliance Works helps HR professionals understand with more confidence their responsibilities for HR Compliance.