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policy checklist for employers

HR Compliance: A 2022 Policy Checklist for Employers

As holiday parties wrap up the year, awards are given, and bonuses are allocated, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the changes the past 12 months have brought. Ensuring you hit the mark on HR shifts in 2022 should be a top priority before the new year. Specifically, legislation regarding some policies was either updated or instated this year and may require action on your part come January 1st. 

Compliance isn’t something that you can afford to be wishy-washy about. Without adhering to the government’s strict standards, you could open your business to class action lawsuits or criminal charges. Whether you have been trying to catch up or are hesitant to understand the implementation of new policies, this post can lend a hand. We’ll explore some big changes that have impacted HR and policies this year.

HR Trends in 2022

As businesses continue to regroup and reevaluate after the pandemic, new concepts and ideas forge ahead of old ones. Here are the quintessential terms that came up in 2022.

The Great Resignation

Coined from the number of employees who quit or left their jobs, this trend began in 2021 due to poor workplace conditions. It didn’t necessarily mean buildings were falling apart, but rather policies and failed procedures that drove people away from positions they were content to do pre-pandemic. This trend continued in 2022, forcing many companies to get realistic and revamp certain aspects of their business to attract talent and retain it.

Quiet Quitting

Those that weren’t impacted by the great resignation might have seen something akin to quiet quitting instead. In this case, staff do the minimum work necessary to accomplish daily tasks. They don’t put in extra effort, overtime, or take on additional responsibilities. Quiet quitting is often the case when staff disconnect with the company they work for, whether because of unclear expectations, a lack of feeling cared about, or other disengaging behaviours. While employees still collect a salary, this is undoubtedly a distant difference compared to the morale of previous years.

Return to Work and Hybrid Work

While the pandemic seemed to fade away as only a memory, many businesses invited their employees back into the office. This return-to-work wave was met with considerable strife, and more workplaces sought to meet their staff halfway with hybrid work conditions that better aligned with their values. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This is a slight update to D&I, as equity has been shown to be just as important in workplaces in the past year. The term refers to fairer processes for staff, making things more impartial than before. It encouraged employers to become more mindful of barriers and other pieces at play for their employees. Equity reminded businesses to level the playing field.

New Workplace Policies in 2022

Ontario legislation has been hard at work this year, passing bills related to staff concerns in a post-COVID work environment. Perhaps your business remained status quo over the last few years or shifted in size to accommodate changes that not even you saw coming. In any case, these policies became mandatory for many companies to implement this year. Let’s review how the Employment Standards Act (ESA) has changed:

The Right to Disconnect

There was plenty of buzz around this phrase when legislation passed in June. First, let’s define this policy: 

  • The term disconnecting from work is defined as disengaging from work-related communications. This means not answering the telephone or video calls, responding to emails, or checking any job-related messages. Essentially, employees are free from daily duties.

To clarify, the right to disconnect policy does not give staff the “right to disconnect.” Rather, it puts emphasis on employers regarding their approach to allowing employees to disconnect. 

This policy applies to business owners with more than 25 employees on January 1st of any year. They must have a written document in place by March 1st of the same year and be provided to employees within 30 days. 

However, if the employee count is less than 25 at the beginning of the year, the policy does not need to be implemented. Even if the staff count increases as months pass, the time for reevaluation comes along once the calendar lands on January 1st again.

Non-Compete Agreements

Coming into effect in October 2021, the legislation around non-compete agreements proved to be a hot-button issue for businesses in 2022. Many companies may have used a non-compete agreement to protect their intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary information or to stay competitive. But what exactly does this term mean?

  • A non-compete clause is defined as any part of an agreement between an employer and employee that forbids that employee from working with a  business, project, or other activity that competes with the employer’s company after their employment ends.

There are no exceptions regarding time limits (for example, six months after leaving a business) or geographical concerns (a set area where the employee is not allowed to join another business). However, these agreements can still be included in contracts for executive-level positions. It is also worth noting that the ESA does not prohibit non-compete agreements that were entered into before this legislation was passed.

Electronic Monitoring Policies

As a considerable amount of industries shifted to remote work, the issue arose of companies watching their employee’s whereabouts online to acknowledge their focus and engagement based on the work they would normally do.

An electronic monitoring policy is required to outline if a business is monitoring its employees’ digital histories and must include:

  • A description of how and in what circumstances the monitoring takes place
  • The purposes for which the information obtained may be used by the employer
  • The date the policy was prepared, and the date that any changes were made

The legislation for electronic monitoring policies is designed to outline transparency regarding these activities, rather than a right to an employee’s privacy. Additionally, it does not create any new rights for employees, such as the right not to be monitored by their employer.

Similar to the right to disconnect policy, this mandatory plan applies to businesses with more than 25 employees on January 1st of any year. A written document must be implemented by March 1st of the same year and be provided to staff within 30 days. 

Updating Handbooks, Internal Policies, and Contracts

Dedicating time to updating your company’s documentation is pivotal to complying with the above requirements that resulted from new legislation. While some businesses may have stayed on top of these changes in 2022, others might have been skeptical of what was required of them or perhaps didn’t meet the minimum staff amount when some bills were passed.

As a small business owner, it can be challenging to know what appropriate terms to include in your updates or decide what your policies should entail. Not everyone is an HR expert, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care about your employees or compliance.

At True North HR Consulting, we are here to help. Policies and diligence are services we offer that can make a difference and impact your current processes. We also have HR advisory services aimed at small and medium-sized businesses that can be customized to focus on the details that matter most to your team. Are you ready to start the new year off on the right foot by becoming  HR compliant? Contact us today.