Hope everybody had a safe and happy holiday, welcome to 2022!

Hope everybody had a safe and happy holiday, welcome to 2022!

Over the past several weeks, while we have been busy celebrating our holidays, spending time with our families, and eating (too much), there have been some important legislative changes and other government announcements that businesses should be aware of. Good thing we at Peak Performance HR have been paying attention!

Increase to Minimum Wage – As of January 1, 2022, the general minimum wage for workers has increased to $15.00 per hour (a raise from $14.35). working-for-workers-by-increasing-minimum-wage-to-15-an-hour

Workplace Vaccination Policies – Many employers have already begun developing and introducing workplace vaccination policies in order to safely facilitate the return of employees back to their physical office space. However, the recent and rapid rollout of booster shots may lead to a change in Health Canada definition of “fully vaccinated,” in which case employers may need to revise their vaccination policies and processes accordingly.

Temporary Return to a Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Re-Open – The Ontario government announced yesterday that they are re-introducing temporary measures intended to slow the spread and curb transmission of the highly contagious Omicron variant and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Effectively January 5th until at least January 26, 2022 (21 days minimum, subject to trends/changes in public health and health system indicators) the government is “requiring businesses and organizations to ensure that employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site”. Return to Modified Step Two

Mandatory Right To Disconnect Policies – On December 2, 2021, Bill 27, Working for Workers’ Act officially became law in Ontario. This new legislation requires employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work. “Disconnecting from work” is defined as not engaging in a range of work-related communications so as to be free from the performance of work”. Employers have until June 2, 2022, to determine whether they employ 25 employees or more (as of January 1, 2022), and prepare and roll out their written policy.

Prohibition of Non-Competition Agreement – The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) now includes a prohibition on non-competition clauses which forbids employers from having employees enter into contracts that include a non-competition clause (as well as standalone non-competition agreements). Based on this update, it is recommended that employers remove non-competition clauses from any existing employment agreement templates/contracts on a go-forward basis. However, there are exceptions mentioned in the Act, including a limited exception for executive employees, who are defined as “any person who holds the office of chief executive officer, president, chief administrative officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer, chief legal officer, chief human resources officer or chief corporate development officer, or holds any other chief executive position.”

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Extended –
The Government of Ontario extended the period that the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”) will apply. The IDEL was scheduled to expire on January 1, 2022, however, this has been extended to July 31, 2022.
The IDEL Regulation is intended to protect non-unionized employees whose wages or hours have been reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19, they are not considered to have been statutorily laid off or constructively dismissed under the ESA. Rather, in these cases, employees are deemed to be on ‘job-protected leave’. It is important to note that this will only be applicable if there is a contractual provision within the employment agreement that entitles the employer to lay off an employee temporarily. If your business’ contract does not include this provision currently, it is advisable to have your employment agreement legally reviewed and updated in accordance with current recommendations and legislation.Infectious Disease Leave Ontario

Expansion of Local Lockdown Program
At the end of the year, the government announced that it will temporarily expand access to the Local Lockdown Program to eligible businesses and organizations. The proposed expansion will be in effect from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022. The Local Lockdown Program provides wage and rent support to businesses and organizations through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program. Initially, the eligibility was limited to organizations or businesses affected by a revenue drop of at least 40% as a result of a qualifying public health restriction. However, the proposed expansion will include “employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50% or more and have experienced a current-month revenue loss of at least 25%”. Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidies from 25% to a maximum of 75%, depending on their specific circumstances and degree of revenue loss. Local Lockdown Program

Canadian Experience Requirement To be Removed
The Working for Workers Act is working to make things easier for internationally trained individuals to practice in the professions that they trained in abroad. Under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006, a section was added that detailed how the minister to help internationally trained professionals access jobs in Ontario. The province is expected to propose that:

▪ Canadian work experience requirements for professional registration and licensing be eliminated unless an exemption is granted based on a demonstrated public health and safety risk.
▪ The duplication for official language-proficiency testing be reduced, so people with foreign credentials in these occupations will not have to complete multiple tests for the purposes of immigration and professional licencing, and;
▪ Speed up the licensing process which can now take 18 months or more to help internationally-trained immigrants start working in careers that match their skillset.

In closing…

With so many changes and regular updates, it is certainly understandable how it can be overwhelming for small and mid-sized businesses to keep up! That is why our team of Strategic HR Consultants are here to help.

Please contact us for a complimentary consultation, we will help you to better understand any gaps in your business’ compliance or HR programs and procedures and how we can support you going forward. Our flexible, fractional human resources services are cost-effective and we will customize a solution that works for your business.

Lisa Kay
President & Lead Consultant
Phone: 1-800-674-3471
Email: [email protected]