Before going into the substance of my post, I wanted to introduce myself to the readership. I started at Norton Rose Fulbright in 2008 in Montreal and practiced as an associate until 2012. I left to lead the Employee Relations team for a major retailer in Canada and recently returned to the practice. I’m excited to be back “home” and to take over as one of the Canadian editors.

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour made headlines last week when they began an annual blitz on potentially abusive employers. The purpose was to target employers who take advantage of workers by failing to adhere to the requirements outlined in the Employment Standards Act. The targeted industries, according to the Ministry, include fitness and recreation, restaurants and janitorial services. The Ministry’s goal is to hold employers accountable for respecting employee entitlements such as minimum wage, eating periods and overtime pay.

The crackdown comes on the heels of amendments to the Employment Standards Act that came into force recently. The amendments, which stem from Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for Stronger Economy Act, 2014, aim to protect vulnerable Ontario workers.

Key amendments include changes to Section 111, which outlines the amount of time an employee has to file a complaint. Previously, an employee whose entitlements under the Act were violated could not recover wages unless his or her complaint was made within six months. That time limit has now been extended to two years.

Additionally, Section 3(5) now requires every employer to provide each of his or her employees with a copy of a poster, published by the Ministry, clearly outlining an employee’s entitlements under the law. The poster, which can be obtained here, describes the law as it relates to hours of work, meal breaks, overtime pay, minimum wage, vacation pay, public holidays, leaves of absence, and termination notice. The Ministry of Labour has given employers until June 19, 2015 to make the poster available to employees. No doubt, they’ll be checking this summer.

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