OSHA BookEmployers – Do you know about these legislative changes?

Laws are constantly changing and employment laws are no exception. Below are a few important legislative changes, that have come into effect, or will be law in the near future.

New standards for candidate background checks – Bill 113

Job candidates are often required to complete a background check as a condition of employment to determine their suitability. In Ontario, standards for the information released in these background checks was lacking, resulting (in some cases) to the disclosure of personal records such as mental health information. On December 3, 2015, Bill 113, the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 received Royal Assent. Bill 113 aims to remove barriers to employment, education and volunteer opportunities that may result from the inappropriate disclosure of non-conviction and non-criminal records.

The new legislation will provide clear, consistent, and comprehensive standards to govern how police record checks are conducted by:

  • Defining three types of police record checks: 1) criminal record check, 2) criminal record and judicial matters check, and 3) vulnerable sector check;
  • Limiting the type of information that can be released; and
  • Standardizing disclosure practices, such as ensuring that a job applicant has an opportunity to review his or her police record check results prior to its disclosure.

First responders diagnosed with PTSD are presumptively eligible for WSIB – Bill 163

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance regime enables workers who have sustained job-related illness and/or injury to obtain lost income and other benefits as a result of a workplace accident or illness. Typically, an employee needs to demonstrate that the illness or injury is a result of a workplace incident.

On April 5, 2016, the Ontario government passed Bill 163, presumptive legislation dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) for first responders under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. Under the new legislation, a first responder covered by the legislation who is diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist or a psychologist can make a claim for Workplace Safety and Insurance benefits and WSIB will presume that the PTSD is work-related, unless the contrary is shown. A first responder includes:

  • police officers,
  • firefighters,
  • paramedics,
  • certain workers in correctional institutions and secure youth justice facilities,
  • dispatchers of police, firefighter and ambulance services, and
  • emergency response teams.

New Employer obligations for workplace harassment – Bill 132

On March 8, 2016, Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 received Royal Assent: it will become law in September 2016 and amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). In my opinion, Bill 132 gives ‘teeth’ to the previous OHSA amendments under Bill 168, which became law in June 2010. Bill 168 required employers to draft policies dealing with workplace violence and harassment, and develop programs to assess and manage threats of violence and harassment.

Bill 132 takes an employer’s obligations one step further, by ensuring that a workplace harassment program:

  • includes a reporting mechanism;
  • includes a requirement to investigate a complaint of harassment. Bill 132 also expands the powers of the Ministry of Labour to order an employer to conduct an investigation by an impartial
  • third-party at the employer’s expense; and
  • details how the complainant and respondent will be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective action taken

Bill 132 also expands the definition of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment.

With the above legislative changes, employers should carefully review and update their current workplace policies to ensure that they comply when Bills 113, 163 and 132 become law.

Should you require more information about the above or for assistance with your workplace policies, – we would be glad to help!