What are the Planned and Proposed Changes to the ESA?

The Ontario government is proposing new legislation that aims to increase fines under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and enhance job transparency for workers in the province. The proposed changes are part of the “Working for Workers Act, 2023,” which seeks to strengthen protections for employees and hold employers more accountable.

One significant aspect of the proposed legislation is the increase in fines for ESA violations. Currently, fines for non-compliance with the ESA range from $250 to $2,000 per violation. However, under the new legislation, these fines could increase significantly, with maximum penalties reaching up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. These higher fines are intended to deter employers from violating the ESA and to ensure that workers receive the protections and entitlements they are entitled to under the law.

New Transparency Requirements

Another key provision of the proposed legislation is aimed at improving job transparency and accountability. The government plans to introduce measures that would require employers to provide written notices to employees about their rights under the ESA, including information about wages, hours of work, and other employment standards. Employers will also be required to disclose in advertisements for positions whether a job vacancy currently exists, in response to a recent survey that found that 50 percent of hiring managers reported creating job postings for unavailable positions in order to create a “pool” of ready candidates.

How can Whitten and Lublin Help?

It is important for employers to keep up with any changes to the ESA and to thoroughly understand their statutory obligations. Breaching these obligations, even inadvertently, can have significant and serious consequences for employers, such as fines, orders for change, and potential liability for damages in civil lawsuits. If you are an employer looking to learn more about these planned and proposed changes to the legislation and how to meet your obligations, Whitten & Lublin is here to assist you. Contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667.