HR Laws: Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid

Team reviewing HR laws

Employment legislation or HR laws can be incredibly complex, are frequently amended and vary from one Canadian jurisdiction to the next. Yet, every day HR professionals may be asked to answer a range of questions that require them to review and understand HR laws.

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 HR laws. Given the complexity of HR laws, HR professionals may encounter several pitfalls. So, what are the top mistakes to avoid when reviewing HR laws?

#1 Reviewing HR laws of the wrong jurisdiction

Because Canadian HR laws 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 expansion of remote work has made applying the correct legislation more complicated. Some employers that were historically located in one province 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 Nova Scotia and works remotely from there, you must meet the Nova Scotia 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 post: Remote Work – What are the HR Compliance Implications?

#2 Missing a change to HR laws

Every year, governments across Canada make changes to employment legislation (e.g., the Parliament of Canada amends hundreds of federal Acts every year). 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 applicable HR law 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 to HR laws 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

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

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.

How Compliance Works Helps Employers

Compliance Works was developed by senior lawyers with a deep understanding of how legislation works. By using Compliance Works, HR teams can avoid the common mistakes associated with reviewing and applying employment laws.

Plain language summary of HR law

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 Demosubscribe to Compliance Works publications, or email us at 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.

The latest in HR laws delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to the Compliance Works newsletter for our takes on HR laws, compliance changes, and other trending workplace topics.

Related articles

Easy tutorials to
get you started

May 25, 2023

In this Compliance Works How To video we show you how to add users to your Compliance Works account!

May 25, 2023

In this video we will show you how to create reports. Reports are automatically updated to show any changes in the law and can be downloaded as a pdf to share with others.

May 25, 2023

In this video we show you how to find recent changes in the law.

You’re all set! Our team will be in touch in the next 24 hours to schedule your personal demo. In the meantime, you can learn more about our software or explore our HR compliance resources.