Many provinces stepping up labour standards enforcement: CPA

Payroll staff need to be aware of legislative changes, potential risks
||Last Updated: 02/09/2018
Alberta and several other provinces have made significant changes to employment and labour standards. Shutterstock

Employment and labour standards are changing constantly.

And recently, Ontario, Alberta and several other provinces made significant changes, including amendments to public holiday pay, paid personal emergency days (including for part-time employees), parental and compassionate care leaves, and minimum wage, among others.

These changes affect employers — employee remuneration can be impacted, payroll and human resources processes and systems affected, and audit and penalty risks increased.

Employment standards cover an entire host of workplace facets, everything from payment of overtime hours to termination pay. In Alberta, contravention of the Employment Standards Code carries a penalty of up to $100,000. Repeated contraventions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) in Ontario can cost organizations up to $500,000, according to the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA).

While these fines are for extreme cases, failure to comply with the prescribed employment and labour standards of any jurisdiction an organization operates in can impact payroll staff, according to the CPA.

Under the Ontario ESA, offences such as failure to pay overtime, which can stem from employer misunderstanding or oversight, will cost a minimum of $295 plus applicable costs and victim fine surcharges.

Many provinces are stepping up their enforcement measures, hiring more enforcement officers to investigate organizations, increasing penalties for employment standards violations, and publishing names of non-compliant organizations.

Beyond the obvious monetary risk, employment standards infractions also pose reputational risk, both to employees overseeing compliance and to the organization. They can also increase an organization's risk for future audit by an employment standards officer, or other government departments or agencies.

The CPA monitors these changes, communicating the impacts to payroll, and helping organizations navigate the varying jurisdictional fluctuations.

For more information about the CPA, visit

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