The End of COVID-19 Regulations
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Throughout the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, we have undergone several cycles of announcements, implementations, and revocations of COVID-19-related regulations. On April 14, 2022, Ontario filed yet another regulation – O. Reg. 346/22: Revoking Various Regulations (this “Regulation”) under Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. In the nutshell, this Regulation revokes every single remaining COVID-19-related regulation in the province.

What Are Some Examples of Rules and Restrictions Being Lifted?

A major regulation being revoked is Regulation 364/20: Rules For Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step, which requires that businesses must operate in accordance with any advice and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including with respect to physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting; establishing, implementing and ensuring compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy; and setting out the precautions and procedures that businesses must include in their COVID-19 vaccination policies. In addition, masks and face coverings are no longer required on public transit services, in hospitals, in long-term care homes, laboratories and specimen collection centers, homeless shelters, and congregate care supportive housing residences, among others.
Continue Reading The End of COVID-19 Regulations

Working for Workers Act received Royal Assent, making it now law
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In March, we blogged about Bill 88 or the Working for Workers Act (part 2) (the Act). You can read that post here. On April 11, 2022, the Act received Royal Assent, making it now law. Most significant to employers, who are not Uber etc., are the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000  (ESA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The Act has attracted the most attention for the creation of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022, which will have big implications for digital platform workers and “employers” like Uber and Skip the Dishes, however, the Act impacts non-digital platform employers too. 

Here’s the rundown of what’s new in the ESA and the OHSA.
Continue Reading Working for Workers Act 2 Passes in the Ontario Legislature: What Employers Who Aren’t Uber Need to Know to Comply

Office holiday party and Covid-19 considerations
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Likely you’ve noticed that the holiday season is upon us! Often around this time of year, we’ve written a blog post about holiday office parties. Usually, these have revolved around topics like social host liability, drinking and sexual harassment. This year, many workplaces are eager to get the gang back together in person and have the additional consideration of COVID-19! What to do?!

Where to Party?

An easy option, which will allow employers to avoid having to reinvent the wheel, will be to have the holiday party at a restaurant. Restaurants know the local public health rules and you won’t have to ruin the night for your HR person by requiring them to be the mask police all night. Proof of vaccination is required to dine indoors in most jurisdictions and the restaurant will have a set-up for contract tracing and vaccination checks. 
Continue Reading Time to Party IRL?

Bill 132 - Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Date
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In response to the provincial government’s March 2015 report entitled  “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment,” the Ontario legislature passed Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan in March 2016, which entered into force in September of that year. This Bill amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), establishing specific requirements with respect to sexualized harassment and violence prevention in Ontario’s workplaces. In turn, employers have since had additional responsibilities to understand, address and eliminate workplace sexual harassment and violence beyond previous measures. This requires sound and updated workplace policies, sufficient workplace training, and additional competencies to ensure compliance with the OHSA via, amongst other things, informed and diligent workplace investigations.
Continue Reading Understanding your employer obligations under Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan

health and safety policies and committee
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Once workers are back together in the workplace, employers will want to ensure that their health and safety policies and programs have been reviewed and account for all the changes and new ways of doing things. Your Joint Health and Safety Committee will play a role! 

What’s a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

In Ontario, one legal requirement of a compliant health and safety program (H&S Program) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is for workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). A JHSC is made up of employees and managers who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and safety issues in the workplace. The group is required to have a balanced number of employee representatives and management representatives. Employers must consult with the JHSC about their H&S Program and employees can directly approach their JHSC with any health and safety concerns. 
Continue Reading Time to Reconvene your Joint Health & Safety Committee

Workplace harassment and the employer’s duty to correct it
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Occupational health and safety legislation in Ontario protects workers from the risk and harm of harassment at work. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) employers have a legal duty to guard against and correct workplace harassment no matter how small the team. 

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding workplace safety and the employer’s obligations. 

Harassment Can Go By Many Names

Bullying is harassment. Employees sometimes think that the form of harassment they are facing is less serious than the harassment that OHSA targets. But any euphemism for harassment, like bullying or mocking, doesn’t make it less harmful to workplace health and safety. Even lighthearted bullying can count as harassment under OHSA and the employer will have a duty to prevent and act on it. OHSA says that:
Continue Reading Workplace Harassment: the Employer’s Duty