The Ontario government has proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “Act”) in Bill 146 Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2013. The most significant of the proposed amendments relate to employee claims for unpaid wages and temporary employment agencies. Employers should be aware of these significant amendments while we wait to see if Bill 146 is passed.

Employee Claims for Unpaid Wages

Currently, the Act imposes a $10,000 cap on the amount of unpaid wages that an employer can be ordered to reimburse an employee. Bill 146 proposes to remove this cap, allowing employees to recover any amount of wages owed. Bill 146 also proposes to extend the employee’s ability to recover unpaid wages to include wages that became due two years prior to the claim.

Temporary Employment Agencies

Bill 146 proposes to make the client company and the temporary employment agency jointly and severally liable for unpaid wages (which do not include termination or severance pay) of a temporary worker. Under the proposed amendments, the temporary worker could bring a claim under the Act against the temporary employment agency and the client company, who would already have paid the temporary employment agency for the work performed.