WHERE TO START?
Once Bill 148’s proposals become law, HR will have to act quickly.
While there’s a chance of further revisions, Whitten says employ-ers
should start preparing based on what’s in place after the second
“I would anticipate we’re going to see the Bill go through a third
reading then receive Royal Assent in October because it gives
companies a couple months to make changes to their policies and
practices,” he said.
At that point, HR expertise will be in high demand.
“If Bill 148 is passed into law, it will be absolutely mandato-ry
for new businesses and smaller businesses – many of whom
don’t have dedicated HR departments – to engage HR profession-als
to come in and do audits, ensure compliance and put policies
in place to limit exposure in the future,” said Whitten. “There may
be an upfront cost to it, but now, in the early days, is the time to
ensure compliance and limit exposures and cost. There’s no ‘cow-boying
it’ on your own, or you’re going to end up paying the price
down the line.”
To begin planning, first consider the bigger and more expensive
items on the list.
“What I’m telling clients is to plan immediately for the dollar
impacts,” said Whitten. “We know the minimum wage is going to
come. That’s a clear promise.”
From there, said Nieuwland, “Work with your counsel to set
out what changes you need to make to your policies and practices
by, in most cases, January 1.”
Costs might extend into less obvious areas, too.
“The list of things you need to do could include revamping em-ployee
handbooks, perhaps even making changes to employment
contracts so they comply with the new laws and perhaps opening
up discussions with unions,” said Piccolo. “Plan ahead so you’re
ready when the legislation finally comes through, and you have the
funds ready to be able to do what you’ve planned.”
Williams points out that while organizations want to make sure
they’re meeting compliance responsibilities, they should also use
care to make sure they’re not unwittingly exceeding them.
“For example, if you already offer a certain number of personal
emergency leave days, and then you add two additional emergency
leave days that have to be paid, you might unintentionally be pro-viding
12 days,” she said.
While it might be tempting to push aside any concerns about
how these changes will impact an organization’s culture – at least
until the more urgent tasks are completed – Williams points out
that times of change are when an organization can lean on the very
strengths of its culture, and it offers a chance to grow into new ar-eas
“When you talk about what employers should do, they should
look culturally,” said Williams. “For example, non-union employ-ers
who intend to remain non-union really have to be mindful of
the fact that it’s going to be easier for unions to gain bargaining
rights,” said Williams. “Unions generally gain bargaining rights not
because employers aren’t providing adequate compensation and
benefits – although that’s a piece of it – but because of how of the
employer is treating employees.
“In all changes and times of uncertainty, it matters whether
there’s transparency and fairness and whether the managers are
leaders and truly trying to bring the best out of the teams.” When
employers miss the mark, there’s a lot at stake in terms of culture,
engagement and productivity.
“My advice to employers and to HR professionals is to do your
homework, be strategic about how you’ll meet your compliance
responsibilities, and you’ll be okay,” said Williams. “The big risk
here is that when employers feel a wave of regulation coming upon
them, they tend to take an ostrich approach. Avoidance is not go-ing
to serve you well. This is something you really have to tackle
– and it really is doable.”
View the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148) here. n
“THE BIG RISK HERE
IS THAT WHEN
EMPLOYERS FEEL A
WAVE OF REGULATION
THEM, THEY TEND
TO TAKE AN OSTRICH
IS NOT GOING TO
SERVE YOU WELL.”
– LAURA WILLIAMS
Alex_Po / Shutterstock.com
26 ❚ OCTOBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL