Q: When is the private sector required to be compliant with AODA customer service standards?

A: The Accessible Customer Service Standard went into effect for the public sector in January 2010. The private sector became into effect follows in January 2012.

Q: What are the penalties for not complying with OHSA and its regulations?

A: The maximum penalties for a contravention of OHSA or its regulations are set out in OHSA Section 66. A successful prosecution could, for each conviction, result in:

• A fine of up to $25,000 for an individual person and/or up to 12 months imprisonment
• A fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation

Q: Can an employer in Ontario average work hours over a two week period for the purpose of calculating overtime pay?

A: An employer and an employee can agree in writing to average the employee’s hours of work over a specified period of two or more weeks for the purpose of calculating overtime pay. Under such an agreement, an employee would only qualify for overtime pay if the average hours worked per week during the averaging period exceed 44 hours.

In addition to having an averaging agreement in writing, the employer must also obtain an approval to average hours of work for overtime pay purposes from the Director of Employment Standards.

Employers who want to apply for approval to average hours of work for overtime pay purposes are required to make their application in a form provided by the Ministry of Labour. The application form is available on the Ministry’s website. For more information, please refer to the Employer’s Guide to the Application Process: Excess Hours of Work/Averaging Hours.

An employer who receives an approval to average overtime pay must post a copy of the approval in the workplace where it is likely to come to the attention of the employee(s) identified in the approval and to keep it posted until it expires or is revoked and then remove it.

Q: Are all employers required to obtain WSIB coverage?

A: No, there are some employers who are exempt from mandatory WSIB coverage, such as doctors, dentists, even HR Consultants. To find out if your business is exempt, please contact the WSIB’s head office at 416-344-1000 or toll free at 1-800-387-0050. It is strongly recommended that you obtain written confirmation from WSIB stating that you are exempt.

Q: What does Ontario law say about coffee breaks?

A: An employee must not work for more than 5 hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period (meal break) free from work. The law does not require an employer to provide any breaks in addition to this eating period. However, if the employer does provide another type of a break, such as a coffee break, and the employee must remain at his or her workplace during the break, the employee must be paid at least the minimum wage for that time.

Q: Can employees in Ontario take time off for doctor’s appointments?

A: An employee whose employer regularly employs 50 or more employees is entitled to 10 personal emergency leave days per year. Personal Emergency leave days can be used to attend a doctor’s appointment if the appointment is because of an illness, injury or medical emergency. This leave is job-protected.

Q: Must employees produce a doctor’s note if asked for one by their employer?

A: An employer is allowed to ask an employee to provide evidence that he or she is eligible for a personal emergency leave. The employee is required to provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances.