Three Classes of Small Business Employment Laws Your Company Should Be Following

by John Burke

2 min read

Every business is [subject to basic laws] that govern employment and the working environment for your company. For new small businesses, understanding and abiding by these laws is essential for two main reasons. First, doing so keeps your employees safer, happier, and more loyal to you and your company. Second, doing so helps too ensure that your company isn’t opened up to costly litigation. The specifications of many of these laws vary, depending upon the type of business you have, how many employees work for you, the province in which your company is headquartered or does business, and, sometimes even between regions of a province. However, there are essentially three general classes of laws that your company should be certain it’s following.

Employment Standards Legislation

Every province has some form of legislation in place to keep the rules regarding the standards of working conditions fair and similar for every worker. This legislation applies to a variety of employment terms, including vacation time and pay, minimum wage, hours of work and overtime, and notification of termination, among other things. The Ministry of Labour for each province or territory outlines the specific minimum for each of these standards. If your small business fails to meet these minimums, your company could face financially disastrous lawsuits that leave you with liabilities that could burden your business for years.

Human Rights Legislation

As a small business owner, the emotional, physical, and mental health of your employees, as well as them having a clear sense of being treated fairly and respectfully, is important. All of this ultimately translates to a team of workers who are more loyal to your company, and more diligent and effective in their work. Human rights laws offer employees protection from different forms of discrimination. These laws specifically outline qualities of individuals that you, as a small business owner, are prohibited from using to discriminate against your employees. These elements can include age, gender, race, religion, marital status, family status, and any disabilities a worker might have — whether physical, mental, or emotional. Following these laws and standards is becoming increasingly important for the success of your business. In recent years, complaints against employers for violations of these rules and rights has risen substantially, with findings nearly always in favour of the employee. Also, current and former employees do not have to pay to speak to tribunals or commissions regarding an employer’s violation of human rights.

Personal Protection Legislation

Personal protection laws also vary from one jurisdiction to another, so be sure to check the ones applicable to your business. Protection laws are relatively new and refer to the concept of protection for employees against harassment and/or violence in a workplace setting. All businesses are required to have policies, include procedures for disciplining guilty parties, that protect workers against harassment. Company policies must include necessary procedures to safely report any occurrences, adequate training to help staff spot workplace harassment or violence and to know how to stop it. They also should include further information for employees regarding how they can lodge a criminal complaint if they desire to do so.

References & Resources

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