2015 Business Law Highlights

As the year starts speeding to a close, this week’s Blog takes a look at some of the important Business Law issues of 2015.

The most recent change is the November 20, 2015, changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act that came into effect and could significantly impact companies using Temporary Help Agencies to staff positions. If the Temp Agency you use does not pay the employees their regular wages, overtime wages, public holiday or special wages then your business (you personally, if you’re not incorporated) can be required to pay those monies to the employee.

Yes, this means that even if you already paid the temp agency, you’ll be paying the employee “again”. The public policy behind this is to protect vulnerable workers. Clearly “vulnerable” employers are not a consideration.

In order to protect your business from this liability, ensure that you do some due diligence into the Temp Agency you’re using. Ensure they actually pay staff on time. Investigate how long they have been in business. Ask questions to protect your business from unintentionally paying twice for temporary employees.

This year also saw the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario award a massive award of $ 150,000.00 against an employer. This case was a reminder of the fact that while often damages awards at the Tribunal are closer to $ 20,000.00, if the case warrants it, the damages will escalate significantly.

The Canadian Trademarks Act changes that were to be in place at the end of this year have been pushed back to 2018. If you have not yet Trademarked your brand, you should use this time to do so. The changes that are proposed will open Canadian Trademarks up to more International Competition: be smart, protect your brand.

Finally, in January of 2015 we saw the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) provisions come into effect with respect to software. While there have been no monumental decisions on that part of CASL this year, we did see the first $1.1 Million fine against a Quebec Company. Remember: $ 200.00 per email to a maximum of $ 10 Million per corporation is what can be levied against businesses.

2015 was an interesting year for Business Law: next year should be even better !

Inga B. Andriessen JD