This video provides an overview of employment legislation as it applies to the workplace setting, including the topic of vicarious liability. The text below provides a summary of what is discussed in the video.
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Ontario Employment Law in the Workplace
There are many laws and rules that outline the responsibilities of employers in the workplace. This section provides a basic overview of some of these laws and responsibilities.
Once an employee is hired, the Ontario Human Rights Code continues to be an important piece of legislation in the workplace. For instance, employees cannot be promoted or refused a promotion based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination outlined in the Code.
Below is an overview of some of the other pieces of legislation that apply.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
The Occupational Health and Safety Act is an important provincial law related to maintaining safe healthy workplaces and protecting employees from health and safety hazards. For instance, it covers topics such as hazardous materials and equipment on the job.
Some workplaces (depending on the number of workers) are required to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee. This Committee includes workers and management, and its role is to monitor and improve the health and safety status of the workplace. If a problem arises, the Ministry of Labour has inspectors who can intervene to ensure safety.
Occupational health and safety also applies to the workplace environment and protecting employees from bullying and harassment. An addition to this legislation in 2016 sets out additional requirements for employers, such as investigating workplace harassment issues. For more information, visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s website: Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA)
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act is essentially a law that governs a no-fault insurance plan that employers pay into to ensure that workers are covered if they are injured or ill because of their job. For instance, under this Act, an employee can file a claim for a work-related injury or illness with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and the Board will determine what, if any, compensation the employee is entitled to.
The following resources have more information on whether your workplace is covered under this statute and your requirements as an employer:
- Ontario Office of the Employer Advisor: The Employer’s Guide to Workplace Safety and Insurance (Feb 2016)
- WSIB: WSIA eLearning Series for Employers
The Employment Standards Act (ESA)
The Employment Standards Act covers a number of important responsibilities of the employer in most Ontario workplaces, including matters such as:
- Minimum wage
- Hours of work, overtime
- Public holidays, vacations, leaves of absence
- Benefit plans
- Pregnancy and parental leave
- Termination of employment
- Severance pay
Vicarious liability is a legal term that describes the employer’s responsibility for injury or harm that an employee causes during their employment. For instance, an employer may be held responsible for a human rights violation committed by an employee in the workplace.
The Importance of Feedback and Training
Feedback and training is important to support a safe workplace and ensure staff are being treated fairly. Employers must ensure that all staff, particularly those in supervisory roles, are trained and understand the rules about discrimination in the workplace. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide adequate training and feedback when necessary. For instance, this may involve intervening when a supervisor or manager is not treating staff fairly.
There are many other responsibilities of employers in the workplace, but this section has provided a basic overview. It is also important to note that some of these items may differ for unionized employees as their employment terms may be negotiated in a collective agreement.