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Recap: New payroll amounts and other legislative changes effective January 1, 2012

It’s the time of the year again when employers and payroll specialists have to start their T4 year-end process and need to know what’s new in payroll for 2012. All employee payroll records for the year in question must be updated, adjusted and cleared prior to December 31 of each year. Employers must file 2011 T4 information returns and summary forms, and provide employees with T4 slips by the last day of February 2012 (February 29). Additional information on T4s, end of the year issues and payroll amounts effective January 1, 2012, read this complimentary article provided by HRinfodesk titled: “End of the year 2011 – what’s new for payroll 2012.”

In addition, several changes to pension, employment standards and other legal requirements are coming into force January 1, 2012. Below you will find a brief summary of some of the changes employers need to know and prepare for:

  • Ban on using electronic devices while driving (NT): The Northwest Territories will begin enforcing its distracted driving laws banning the use of electronic devices (e.g., cellphones) while operating a motor vehicle on January 1, 2012.
  • ESC changes for January 1, 2012 (MB) : Changes to the Employment Standards Code in Manitoba come into force on January 1, 2012, and incude changes to: termination of employment and just cause, individual flex time agreement, varying hours of work/work break order/weekly day of rest order, general holidays in climate controlled agricultural operations. For expanded information on the changes you can also consult the government website.
  • Mandatory fall protection training program (NL): The Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, section 139 states that a person shall not use fall protection equipment after January 1, 2012, unless he or she has completed a fall protection training program prescribed by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission. Moreover, workers working at heights above three metres are required to use fall protection equipment and complete training with an approved fall protection training program.
  • Pension changes come into force (MB): Two of the new regulations under the Manitoba Pension Benefits Act take effect January 1, 2012 and will focus on new penalties for the late filing of information used by the province to monitor pension plans; allowing the use of letters of credit to guarantee funds to cover promised benefits to employees; allowing employers to extend the solvency amortization period to 10 years from five. Doubling the amount of time allowed for funding solvency deficiencies. More information on the changes to Manitoba’s Pension Benefits Act and Regulation is available at www.gov.mb.ca/labour/pension.
  • Mandatory coverage for most individuals working in the construction industry (ON) : The pre-registration provisions of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act, 2008 (formerly Bill 119), will be proclaimed into force and become effective January 1, 2012. The remainder of the Act which extends mandatory workers’ compensation coverage to independent operators and some other individuals carrying on business in construction will come into force on January 1, 2013. The legislation provides a one year period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 to allow independent operators and some other individuals carrying on business in construction to voluntarily pre-register with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) before the requirements relating to mandatory coverage come into force January 1, 2013. During this one-year pre-registration period premiums will not be charged by the Board because the requirement to pay premiums will not be in force until January 1, 2013, which is also when coverage begins.
  • Citizenship ceremony leave passed and in force (NS): On December 15, 2011, the Nova Scotia Government gave Royal Assent to a Bill to amend the Labour Standards Code to give workers the right to an unpaid leave of absence to attend their citizenship ceremony. This provision is similar to one implemented in Manitoba this year, the only jurisdiction to have such a statutory leave of absence.
  • Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund enhancements (ON): On December 21, 2011, the Ontario government announced changes to the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (“PBGF”) that will become effective January 1, 2012. The enhancements to the PBGF were introduced with Phase II of Ontario’s pension reform and the passage of Bill 120, Securing Pension Benefits Now and for the Future Act, 2010, and are enacted pursuant to Regulation 466/11 under the Pension Benefits Act. For more, read Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP Human Resources Legislative Update.
  • Canada Pension Plan changes: Starting January 1, 2012, legislative changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will affect employees who are between the ages of 60 and under 70. It will be mandatory for employees with pensionable earnings who are at least 60 years of age but under 65 to pay CPP contributions even if they are receiving a CPP or Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) retirement pension. This may involve re-starting CPP deductions for employees who had previously stopped making contributions because they receive a C/QPP retirement pension. Employers will also have to pay their share of CPP contributions for these employees. Employees who are at least 65 years of age but under the age of 70 and who are collecting a CPP or QPP retirement pension while working in pensionable employment will have the option to either pay CPP contributions or opt out of contributing by completing form CPT30, Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election. For more in-depth details, regarding CPP contributions, click here. To read on changes to CPP benefits, click here.
  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service under the AODA (ON): January 1, 2012, is the date to complete all actions required under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and emergency preparedness requirements in the Integrated Accessibility Standards. The good news is, if your organization is obligated to report, you do not have to file with the government until December 31, 2012. For more information, read the following post.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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