Ontario HR Compliance Check Up – 5 Key Requirements

Ontario HR compliance check up

Spring is finally here! And it is a great time for employers with Ontario-based employees to do an Ontario HR compliance check up. Compliance Works reviews 5 key requirements that all Ontario employers must meet:

  1. Workplace Policies
  2. Employee Communications
  3. Training
  4. Reporting
  5. Ongoing Compliance

#1 Workplace Policies

While many employers have a wide range of written HR policies and practices, certain policies are mandated by Ontario HR compliance laws.

Most recently, Ontario amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to add 2 new mandatory policies for employers with 25+ employees: (a) disconnecting from work; and (b) electronic monitoring.

Per the Ontario government Guide, a disconnecting from work policy may address issues such as:

  • responding to work-related emails or phone calls outside regular work hours
  • using out-of-office notifications and/or voicemail messages and indicating the expected time for responding.

An electronic monitoring policy must include the following information:

  • whether the employer electronically monitors employees, and if so:
    • a description of when and how the employer may electronically monitor employees; and
    • how that information can be used by the employer; and
  • the dates the policy was prepared and updated.

Deadlines to remember

If you had 25+ employees on January 1, 2022 or January 1, 2023, you should already have these policies in place, and provided copies to your employees. Going forward, employers that meet the 25 employee threshold on January 1 will have until March 1st of the following year to prepare the policy, and another 30 days to provide copies of the policy to each employee.

Keep in mind that whenever you update one of these policies or hire new employees, you must provide them with copies of the policies within 30 days.

For further details on these new ESA policies, see our earlier post: March 1 Deadline – Disconnecting From Work and Electronic Monitoring.

What other workplace policies are required?

Other mandatory Ontario HR compliance policies fall into 2 buckets:

  1. Health & Safety: Per the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), every year Ontario employers must review their workplace harassment policy and workplace violence policy, and if they have 6 or more employees, they must post these policies in the workplace. In addition, all employers with 6+ employees must: (a) prepare and review (at least annually) a written health and safety policy; and (b) develop and maintain a program to implement that policy.
  2. Accessibility: All Ontario employers must develop, implement and maintain accessibility policies. Employees with 50 or more employees must publish an accessibility policies and plan, and they must review/update their plan every 5 years. These employers with 50+ employees must also document return to work and individual accommodation processes.

#2 Employee Communications

The range of information that must be posted in a workplace may surprise even seasoned HR teams. So, it is worthwhile to tour the workplace, and ensure that the following information is posted:

  • Copy of OHSA;
  • Regulatory guidance explaining workers’ rights, responsibilities and duties (in English and the majority language of the workplace);
  • Poster (known as Form 82) regarding the necessity of reporting all accidents and receiving first aid treatment;
  • Copies of the occupational health and safety, workplace harassment and workplace violence policies;
  • No smoking signs, including at each entrance and exit and in washrooms.

And where applicable:

  • Names and work locations of the health and safety committee members;
  • Copy of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s annual workplace summary;
  • Copies of any inspector orders and related notices of compliance;
  • Pay equity plan and a notice indicating whether the plan was amended.

In addition to the disconnecting from work and electronic monitoring policies (noted above), employers must provide each employee with a copy of the most recent employment standards poster published by the Ontario government (including in a language other than English, if requested).

#3 Ontario HR Compliance Training

Employers must ensure that, as they hire new employees, they provide the following training:

  • basic occupational health and safety awareness (e.g., duties and rights of workers, employers and supervisors under OHSA and common workplace hazards);
  • information and instruction on workplace harassment and violence policies and programs;
  • information on accessibility standards and the Human Rights Code (as relates to persons with disabilities).

Typically, employers must provide training to their workers, but it is important to ensure that accessibility training is also provided to volunteers and anyone who provides goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization.

In addition, employers must ensure first aid attendants and health and safety committee members receive the requisite training.

#4 Reporting

Every 3 years, private sector employers must file an accessibility report – in the approved format – as follows:

  • employers with 50 or more employees must file a report regarding compliance with all applicable accessibility standards;
  • employers with 20-49 employees must file a report regarding compliance with the customer service accessibility standard.

This accessibility reporting requirement first applied to private sector employers on December 31, 2014. So, for employers that filed their first report in 2014, your next report is due on December 31, 2023.

In addition, employers must file a report if there is a workplace accident that injures or kills an employee.

#5 Ongoing Compliance

Most Ontario HR compliance requirements don’t easily fall into one of the above categories. In addition to mandatory policies, employee communications and training, and reporting, Ontario employers must ensure that they comply with a wide range of ongoing obligations under accessibility, employment standards, health and safety, human rights, and pay equity laws. These are the never-ending, day-to-day requirements that all employers must meet. For example: How much vacation time do I have to give my employee? When does overtime kick in? Do I have to establish a health and safety committee? And, unfortunately, these laws are frequently amended.

So, how can Ontario employers stay on top of all of these HR compliance requirements? Compliance Works can help.

How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals

Ontario HR compliance can be challenging and time consuming due to challenging and constantly changing employment laws. Compliance Works simplifies HR compliance with plain language summaries of thousands of requirements.

Compliance Works screenshot - Ontario HR Compliance

Compliance Works provides easy-to-read summaries and the latest changes on Accessibility, Employment Standards, Health & Safety, Human Rights, Labour Relations, Official Languages, Pay Equity and Privacy. Contact us to Request a Demo , subscribe to Compliance Works publications, or email us at info@complianceworks.ca to learn how a paid subscription to Compliance Works can help your HR team succeed.

About the author

Lesha Van Der Bij
Lesha Van Der Bij CEO and Co-Founder, Compliance Works
Lesha is a senior lawyer who spent many years of her legal career at major Canadian law firms reviewing legislation and creating easy-to-understand summaries for clients.

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