Please read if your plan offers Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage

The Government of Canada is working to modernize the Employment Insurance (EI) program. In the 2022 federal budget they confirmed the extension of Employment Insurance sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks.
This change is anticipated to take place later this year (yes, not much time) but we are still missing many details, and until we get them we are unable to provide the proper solution for our clients.
The effective date and specific details are expected in the next month or so, but plan sponsors will probably need to realign LTD plans to the 26-week elimination period (from the current 15, 16 or 17 weeks). This will help avoid the payment of disability and EI benefits at the same time, where a member may be required to refund EI for benefits overpaid (for collecting from both at the same time).
Once the government settles on the details, we’ll be reaching out to provide options.  As it stands, I am expecting that most plans will be amended to delay the start of LTD benefits to 6 months (26 weeks) and will likely see a small drop in rates (maybe 5%).
Stay tuned for updates.

Legal case (a warning)

This is a cautionary tale with a BAD ending.  Terminations are never easy, but getting them wrong can be very costly which is why we ask clients to reach out BEFORE things take a turn for the worst.  On top of that, ensuring that you have Plan Administration Liability Coverage is critical as it, or Employment Practices Liability coverage, can help protect you when things go wrong.

In Pasap v Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority and Bear Claw Casino, in a wrongful dismissal action, the Court ordered the employer to pay their former employee $1,216,764.00 in damages on account of the employee’s loss of LTD benefits post termination.


Why Employers Should Have Contracts For Non-unionized Workers

We’ve shared posts over the years about the importance of employment contracts, with written being better than verbal agreements.  These have gone through a number of legal challenges and the result is that they need to be written well (by lawyers is best), or they are tossed out in whole. 

Why does that matter?  Imagine having a sales rep with a non-compete clause, or something contrary to the ESA, the rest of the agreement could be ruled invalid.  This could lead to you paying up to 24 months severance + bonus ++ etc. rather than what was agreed to.

Although a written employment contract is not necessary in order for there to be an employment relationship, a written employment contract provides many benefits to employers. This article focuses on two types of clauses that typically benefit employers: Termination and layoff clauses…


Ontario minimum wage to increase on October 1

Very few Mainstay clients have employees being paid at the minimum wage, but those that do need to know that rate is increasing to $15.50 next week.  The Ministry of Labour sent a reminder today.  I’ve clipped it below for your reference.

Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee. Minimum wage rates in Ontario will increase on October 1, 2022. The increase to the general minimum wage will be 50 cents, which will bring the new rate to $15.50 per hour.

Learn more

New CRA campaign focuses on personal services businesses: Are you ready?


Many employers use “Independent Contractors”(IC) to perform services for the business.  This is not necessarily a problem if they are kept clearly at arms length (such as your once a week office cleaners).  The problem arises when they work; primarily for you, with tools you supply, when and how you instruct, then these IC’s can be deemed employees by CRA.  This can mean the “employee” loses all their deductions and the “employer” would be required to pay back taxes, withholdings etc.

Many insurance brokers have suggested that these people incorporate to protect the employer they work for, but that in itself does not help.  In fact, an incorporated business with up to 5 staff can be deemed a Personal Service Business (PSB) resulting in the highest tax rates and reducing the ability to write off most business expense.  As a result, this advice is not just potentially damaging, but it can be a difficult spot to “get out of”.

The article below alerts employers to the fact that CRA will be running a campaign in this area…

The Canada Revenue Agency is escalating their scrutiny of personal services businesses, and the consequences for breaching these tax rules can be severe. Find out what you need to know about the CRA’s campaign.


Why Ontario Employers Should Review Employment Contracts Now

We’ve seen many changes to employment relationships over the past few years and if you’re an Ontario employer, you may need to revisit employment contracts (working with an employment lawyer and/or an HR professional is best).  The article below highlights many of the changes you’ll want to consider.

It is common practice for technology companies to use standard form employment contracts for all staff.1 Often those contracts are precedents from some other source—a prior start up, or even the Internet. Or they may have been provided by a law firm providing legal advice a number of years ago.

Regardless of the source of the standard form, if it has not been updated in the last six months to reflect recent changes in the law, there is a very good chance that some of its key terms are no longer enforceable in Ontario.

Key Highlights

  • Employers likely need to update terms in employment contracts on termination provisions, restrictive covenants and arbitration clauses.
  • Five practical tips for Ontario employers as they review and update employment contacts.
  • Ontario employers need to stay mindful of new policy requirements on disconnecting from work and “electronic monitoring.”


Enhanced HR Resources for Mainstay clients

If you’re a Mainstay client, you have access to our free HR Resources.  If you’re already signed up, great, they just got better (see below).  If you haven’t yet, please reach out and we’ll give you a discount code to get you set up.

As you may know, 80% of HR Toolkit resources are actually created for employees and managers, and our users have been telling us that they’d like to understand how to make this information available to them.
The HR Toolkit now includes a live employee intranet example that marries the HR Toolkit resources (forms, documents, guides, HR processes, and surveys) with a structured navigation that lets users visualize how important information can be served up to your workforce, regardless of your size.  
Because it’s always easier to edit, than create!

ESA Guidance Now Contains Chapter On Electronic Monitoring Policies

If you’re an employer with over 25 employees, you’ll want to read this short article as you need a written policy in place by October 2022.

If you’re a Mainstay client, we have provided HR resources that include a sample policy you can adopt to your firm.  If you’re not signed up yet, reach out and I’ll give you the code to access the info, which includes complete employee handbook, policy samples and templates.

In the spring, Bill 88Working for Workers Act, 2022received Royal Assent and became law. Among other things, Bill 88 amended Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require certain employers to ensure, within a specific time frame, that they have a written policy in place for all employees with respect to electronic monitoring of employees (Policy).

On July 13, 2022, in its Your guide to the Employment Standards Act, the Government of Ontario published employer guidance for complying with the Policy. In this Insight, we provide a summary of that guidance in Q & A format.


Ontario Extends COVID-19 Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Yet Again

The Ontario government has extended the IDEL to march 31, 2023.

The post from e2r below provides more information.

If you thought COVID-19 was over, think again.

The Ontario government has just announced that it will be extending the Worker Income Protection Benefit program yet again until March 31, 2023. Set to expire on July 31st, 2022, this extension means that employers will still be required to provide three paid infectious disease emergency leave days to employees affected by COVID-19.
As a reminder, employees can take the three paid days for reasons such as:
  • going for a COVID-19 test
  • staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • being sick with COVID-19
  • going to get vaccinated
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority
  • taking care of a dependent who is:
o   sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19
o   self-isolating due to COVID-19
As set out in our last alert regarding this topic here – if an employee has already used up their 3 days, they are no longer entitled to any additional paid days (unless, of course, you already have a sick day policy in place that provides for additional days).
Employers must pay the employee their normal rate of pay for the day off, up to $200, and will have up to 120 days to make a claim for reimbursement. Information on employer reimbursement of these days can be found in our previous alert here.