Legislation that will lead to faster resolution of employment standards claims has been proclaimed in Ontario.
Amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 contained in the Open for Business Act, 2010 were proclaimed in force on November 29. The amendments will allow for changes to the employment standards claim process, which will be implemented January 19, 2011.
“This legislation is good for employers and employees,” Minister of Labour Peter Fonseca said of the amendments. “It will help get money owed into the pockets of hard-working Ontarians faster. And it will help employers to get claims off their books sooner.”
It will require employees, where appropriate, to notify their employer before an Employment Standards claim will be investigated. Most employers want to do the right thing and they will often remedy the situation promptly and voluntarily, if they agree there is a valid claim.
Employees will be able to contact their employer through regular mail, email, fax or phone. Face-to-face contact is not required. By settling disputes earlier, employers and employees will avoid unnecessary costs and shorten claimant wait times.
While employer notification is the preferred first step, the requirement to contact the employer can be waived for vulnerable employees.
The amendments also allow the ministry’s employment standards officers to help employers and employees to reach a settlement. Neither party would have to participate in such a settlement unless they agree to it. It will be completely voluntary.
The legislation also affirms that employment standards officers can deal with undue delays by making a decision on the best information available. In the past, claims have been delayed if one party would not provide all the required information.
The ministry will be providing tools and multilingual resources to help employees file a claim. Check this website in the upcoming weeks for future updates.
”I am very proud to forward legislation that enhances fairness in the workplace. A harmonious workplace is a productive workplace that benefits all Ontarians,” Fonseca said.