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Human Resources Tips

Establishing Workplace Policies and Guidelines

Workplace policies and guidelines should clearly communicate the rules and expectations of the workplace.

Consider the following topics to include in your Employee Policies and Procedures Manual.

Employment Standard Suggested Guidelines
An employee must be allowed to take a continuous 30-minute meal break after every five hours of work. The employer does not have to pay the employee for this break unless the employee is required to stay on-site during this period.

Describe in detail the length and number of breaks and whether these breaks will be paid or unpaid.
Hours of Work
Unless a written agreement is completed, the maximum number of hours an employee can be required to work is eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. The maximum number of hours an employee can work with a written agreement is 60 hours per week (there are some exceptions, please visit the Ministry of Labour for additional information).

Establish a set schedule for each employee to define expectations regarding hours of work and help prevent loss of productivity. Schedules should be posted on a set day, with clear starting and finishing times.
Overtime Pay
Overtime pay is required after an employee has worked more than 44 hours in a week, unless a written agreement is completed. Alternatively, time off can be given in lieu of overtime pay. Overtime pay is one-and-one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay (there are some exceptions, please visit the Ministry of Labour for additional information).

Provide details of opportunities for overtime and the rate of pay or use of lieu time (when the time will be given, procedure for requesting time, time frames).
An employee is entitled to two weeks of vacation with pay each year of employment. Vacation pay is equal to four per cent of the gross wages for the year. An employer has up to 10-months to give time off after the year of earned entitlement.

Provide detail regarding length of vacation, when vacation pay will be given, if relevant increase with years of service. It is recommended to create and have employees submit a signed Request for Vacation Form and employer sign off authorization.

Public Holidays
There are nine Public Holidays in Canada. Most employees qualify for paid statutory holidays. These are days that most employees are entitled to have off work with pay under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). To learn more, visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour Public Holiday Pay webpage.

Please see Employment Standards for legislation regarding paid public holidays.
Sick Leave, Absences and Lateness
By law, employees are allowed to take 10 unpaid emergency days per year without penalty. Visit the Ministry of Labour for additional information.

When establishing a policy, the number of paid sick days and the procedure for reporting lateness or absenteeism should be clearly outlined.
Probationary Periods
The standard probationary period is three-months. Within this time frame, the employer has the right to terminate employment at any time without cause or notice. However if a person has left a place of employment to join your company there may be potential of a law suit.

Employers are strongly recommended to complete a performance review or appraisal each month (this must be discussed with employee) and at the end of the probationary period, particularly if employee performance is in question.
Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
  • Regardless of gender, individuals doing the work of the same value must be paid the same rate.
  • If employees have not been paid equally, this must be remedied.
  • An employee's pay cannot be reduced to achieve this outcome.

2017 Legislation is to be introduced to include equal pay for part time and full time workers. Please visit the Ministry of Labour for additional information.

Source: Human Resources Development Canada and the Centre for Skills Development and Training

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