As a result of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) last year, on October 1, 2015, the general minimum wage in Ontario will increase from $11 to $11.25 per hour. Industry-specific minimum wages for liquor servers, homeworkers, students, and hunters/fishers are also set increase.
Since Ontario’s minimum wage is now tied to the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”), this represents the first of what will generally be annual increases to the minimum wage. Decreases to the CPI will not, however, result in a corresponding reduction to the minimum wage. On April 1 each year, the new minimum wage rates will be released and will come into force the following October 1.
While these annual increases may not be welcomed by many employers, the upside is that minimum wage rate increases will be predictable as opposed to the ad hoc increases we have seen in the past.
In addition, employers should bear in mind that certain categories of employees will remain exempt from the minimum wage rules under the ESA altogether, including many professional employees, students in training for these professions, and certain types of commission-based salespersons, to name a few.
To review the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s news release on these changes, click here.