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An Educational Service of CanPay Software Inc.
June 2012

Contents:

• Welcome
• What's New


Featured Article:

Policy Review

Tip of the Month:

Employing a caregiver, baby-sitter or domestic worker
  Welcome!

June 2012 - Welcome to the latest edition of The Payroll News. As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates who are interested in keeping up with the latest changes in the Payroll industry. Or better yet, subscribe them for free using the Tell Others About Us link.

June 22, 2012 - CanPay and Canadian Payroll System Announces a NEW, Time Tracking and Employee Management Information service - Canadian Payroll Systems Inc. (CPS) is pleased to announce Employer Tracker, an enhanced web Employee Productivity application now available to CPS and CANPAY customers as client installed software or through internet accessible hosted application operations (SaaS). The system is modular in design which allows us to personalize it for the need level of any business operation irrespective of size, simplicity or complexity of needs. (Full Story)


What's New in Canadian Payroll

Listed here are recent changes in legislation on Federal and Provincial levels that may impact your payroll calculations. Please view the following list for changes that affect your region.

FEDERAL:

June 14, 2012 - Automobile Benefits Online Calculator Updated- The CRA has redesigned the Automobile Benefits Online Calculator to better serve your needs. The new calculator is now available on the Canada Revenue Agency Web site. This handy tool allows you to calculate the estimated automobile benefit for withholding purposes based on the information you provide. Use the calculator to easily determine the automobile benefit amount you should prorate to the employee's pay periods. (Full Story)

June 8, 2012 - Government of Canada supports Aboriginal skills development - Mr. Lawrence Toet, Member of Parliament for Elmwood-Transcona, today announced a Government of Canada investment to provide skills development opportunities for 180 Aboriginal people in Winnipeg to help them find and keep good jobs. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. The Government of Canada will invest over $4 million from the Skills and Partnership Fund in BUILD (Building Urban Industries for Local Development) for its Home Retrofit Training project. (Full Story)

June 7, 2012 - T4032 Payroll Deductions Tables - The CRA has released the July 1, 2012 changes for the Payroll Deductions Tables (T4032) and Payroll Deductions Supplementary Tables (T4008) for Nova Scotia and Ontario. The updates are now available on the CRA website. The Deduction Table changes can be found at this link. The Supplementary Table changes can be found at this link. (Full Story)

June 2012 - Revised Payroll Deductions Online Calculator (PDOC) - The July 1, 2012 edition of the Payroll Deductions Online Calculator (PDOC) is now available on the CRA Web site. The PDOC is an interactive web application that calculates payroll deductions for all pay periods, provinces (except for Quebec), and territories. (Full Story)

May 24, 2012 - Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs - The Government is making improvements to Employment Insurance to connect Canadians with available jobs. The announcement was made by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. The improvements will enhance the assistance provided to people collecting EI benefits. Canadians receiving EI benefits will now receive comprehensive job postings on a daily basis from multiple sources. This will ensure that Canadians receiving EI benefits are made aware of the jobs available in their local area. (Full Story)

May 23, 2012 - Government of Canada helps to keep experienced workers in the workforce through ThirdQuarter project - An innovative project that helps keep valuable experienced workers in the workforce will receive additional Government of Canada support. Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, made the announcement today. "The Government's top priorities are job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians," said Mrs. Glover. (Full Story)

May 23, 2012 - Government of Canada creates 36 000 summer jobs for students - Thousands of students will gain valuable job skills this summer while earning money for their education as a result of the federal Canada Summer Jobs initiative. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, made the announcement today. Minister Finley highlighted the student jobs created at the Saskatchewan Abilities Council as a concrete example of the type of tangible work experience youth gain through this initiative. (Full Story)

May 18, 2012 - Payroll Deductions Formulas for Computer Programs - The CRA has released the July 1, 2012 changes for the T4127, Payroll Deductions Formulas for Computer Programs. The updates are now available on the CRA website. This publication contains the formulas you need to determine federal, provincial (except Quebec), and territorial income taxes, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, and Employment Insurance (EI) premium deductions. The formulas also allow you to calculate payroll deductions for special cases such as commission, pension income, bonuses, and retroactive pay increases. (Full Story)

May 16, 2012 - Government Of Canada Supports Youth In Skilled Trades - The Government of Canada announced today that Skills/Compétences Canada is receiving over $8 million over three years (2012-2015) in funding to promote careers in the skilled trades and technology and to provide hands-on experience to young Canadians. This investment complements other initiatives, such as apprenticeship grants that provide up to $4,000 to help apprentices complete their training and launch rewarding careers. (Full Story)

Alberta:

June 19, 2012 - Province stepping up employment standards enforcement - The Alberta government is increasing its efforts to improve fairness in the workplace through a combination of increased education tools and enforcement regarding employment standards. These efforts include the launch of a web page listing employers who have not paid employees properly, plus a new series of short videos outlining employment standards basics. (Full Story)

June 14, 2012 - Modified work was the best medicine for employers and workers - The Alberta WCB reports that modified work was a successful method in 2011 and was a good investment for employers with injured workers. In 2011, WCB reported 15.6 per cent of new work injury cases did not result in time lost from the job, thanks to the availability of suitable modified work. Overall, 93.5 per cent of workers returned to work successfully last year. Their collaboration with their employers, hard work and determination made a difference in their recovery. (Full Story)

June 5, 2011 - 2011 Annual Worker's Compensation System Report - The Alberta government has released the 2011 Annual Worker's Compensation System Report. The report covers such topics as: audited results on the impact of the WCB's joint efforts, detailed reporting on the WCB's financial stability, and also personal comments from some of the people they worked with. The workers' compensation system provided protection for over 146,000 employers and nearly 1.8 million workers in 2011. (Full Story)

May 31, 2012 - Alberta's minimum wage to increase in September - The earnings of about 26,000 Albertans will rise September 1 when the province increases the general minimum wage by approximately 3.5 per cent, or 35 cents per hour. Alberta's general minimum wage will rise from $9.40 per hour to $9.75 per hour. There will be no change to the liquor server minimum wage, which will remain at $9.05 per hour. The 35-cent increase to the general minimum wage is based on a new formula approved in 2011 that is set to take effect this fall. (Full Story)

May 24, 2012 - Bill 1 to legislate workers' compensation coverage for Alberta's First Responders - The Alberta government has introduced new legislation to streamline the process for Alberta's first responders to receive Workers' Compensation Board coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Changes proposed under Bill 1: The Workers' Compensation Amendment Act will allow firefighters, police officers, sheriffs and paramedics to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove their condition is work-related. Alberta will be the first province in Canada to provide such coverage. (Full Story)

May 4, 2012 - Workplace safety, commitment and teamwork translate into positive returns for Alberta employers - Alberta's Ministry of Human Services, and the Workers' Compensation Board the Partnerships in Injury Reduction program (PIR) is recognizing nearly 10,000 employers from across the province for implementing efficient health, safety and return-to-work programs in their workplaces. The benefits of the PIR program for employers are measurable. Compared with other employers, PIR participants have a 31.7 per cent lower loss ratio (claim costs versus premiums paid). (Full Story)

British Columbia:

June 20, 2012 - Workplace Training Program helps retail, tourism staff - A provincially funded program will upgrade the industry and job-specific skills of 1,200 eligible participants working in tourism and retail sectors in British Columbia. As part of 'Canada Starts Here - the BC Jobs Plan', the BC government has invested over $4.2 million in the Workplace Training Program which provides training and development opportunities to individuals employed in the retail and tourism sectors. The program is delivered by a group of post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. (Full Story)

June 19, 2012 - Trans Pacific Partnership equals jobs in B.C. - Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell released a statement in support of the federal government's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. Bell said "It is with great optimism that B.C. looks to increasing trade wherever possible to boost investment and create jobs here at home in British Columbia." The BC Jobs Plan has made it a clear that export growth is critically important to the economy in British Columbia and Canada. Since the introduction of the BC Jobs Plan, there have been increases in trade and job growth. (Full Story)

June 14, 2012 - Aquaculture training means jobs for the Island - Sixty people on northern Vancouver Island are beginning a 25-week training program to learn the skills necessary to work as aquaculture technicians in the aquaculture industry. As part of the program, participants will be placed with local aquaculture employers for a two-week practicum and will be assisted with longer-term job search activities. (Full Story)

June 8, 2012 - May job numbers steady while youth hit the job market - Employment numbers in British Columbia remained steady with a very slight decline in May after strong growth in April. Despite the slight decline, B.C. has added 24,700 jobs so far in 2012. A reported increase in the unemployment rate is mainly due to more people, mainly youth, joining the labour force to look for work. May's unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent is still lower than where it was last year, which was 7.5 per cent. (Full Story)

May 22, 2012 - B.C. needs more skilled immigrants now - The Immigration Task Force (ITF) released their final report today confirming that B.C. will need more skilled immigrants to fill labour and skills shortages throughout the province, announced Minister of State for Multiculturalism and ITF Chair John Yap at an event held today at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver. Attracting more skilled immigrants is one of a series of commitments in the BC Jobs Plan to help fill the more than one million job openings expected over the next decade. (Full Story)

May 11, 2012 - April a great month for jobs: B.C. families benefit - More British Columbians benefited from jobs in April, as B.C.'s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 per cent from seven per cent in March, and gained 19,700 jobs - 16,700 of which are full time positions. Since February 2011, B.C. Has added 57,900 jobs to the economy, benefiting families all over the province. (Full Story)

Manitoba:

June 22, 2012 - Return to Work Information for Employers - A timely and safe return to work can help injured workers and their workplaces recover more quickly. Workplace injuries and illnesses are costly - to the worker, the employer and to society. The WCB of Manitoba's Safe Work Services Department offers two workshops that include information about RTW program development. The workshops are offered free of charge to employers and union representatives. (Full Story)

June 1, 2012 - Speak Up About Workplace Safety - The Manitoba WCB is conducting a survey of Manitoba workplaces and they need your voice. The survey asks about challenges that your organization is experiencing, what you need in order to improve workplace safety, services that you value, and how you would like to receive those services. MNP LLP is conducting the survey on behalf of the WCB with a summary report being made available to the public at the completion of the project. (Full Story)

May 23, 2012 - Province Introduces Legislation That Would Expand Retailers' Sunday Shopping Hours - New legislation would give retailers more flexibility in opening hours on Sundays and some statutory holidays, while protecting retail workers who would rather not work expanded hours, Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard said today after introducing the proposals. Currently, the Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act does not allow retailers to open on Sundays or certain holidays unless a municipality has passed a bylaw allowing it. (Full Story)

May 7, 2012 - NAOSH Week Highlights Message of Helping Workers Make It Home SAFEly - North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week took place with the theme of "Safety and Health: A Commitment for Life! Making it Work!" Led by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE), NAOSH Week focused on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace and raises understanding and awareness of safety and health issues. (Full Story)

New Brunswick:

June 13, 2012 - SalesForce.com / Radian6 creating 300 new ICT jobs - Radian6, a division of Salesforce.com Canada Corp., is expanding its workforce in Fredericton and Saint John, creating 300 new full-time jobs. Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud made the announcement today in the legislative assembly. (Full Story)

May 15, 2012 - Legislation would establish new governance model for apprenticeship, occupational certification - A new governance model for apprenticeship and occupational certification would be established under An Act to Replace the Apprenticeship and Occupational Act, introduced today by Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe. "This modern approach allows our programs to be more responsive to the needs of industry and the labour market," said Coulombe. (Full Story)

May 10, 2012 - Funding extended for Targeted Initiative for Older Workers agreement - The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers agreement and funding has been extended to March 31, 2014. Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe made the announcement today. The program provides support to unemployed older workers in communities affected by significant downsizing or closures. Through the program the government is able to reintegrate older workers, aged 55 to 64, into the workforce through basic work-skills training and employment experience opportunities. (Full Story)

May 7, 2012 - Unemployed and underemployed urged to visit local employment offices - Unemployed and underemployed New Brunswickers are being urged to seek assistance by making an appointment with their local employment office. Department staff can help individuals search for permanent employment, starting with the creation of an individualized employment action plan. These plans are based upon the interests, and skills of the client and current labour market needs. (Full Story)

May 3, 2012 - NBCC and CCNB graduates continue to find employment in New Brunswick - The results of the annual survey of graduates of the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) and the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) show that high percentages of graduates continue to find employment in the province. The percentage of employed graduates working in New Brunswick remained steady at 94 per cent in 2011 for NBCC graduates, and was down two percentage point at 95 per cent for CCNB graduates. (Full Story)

Newfoundland and Labrador:

June 8, 2012 - Minister Clarifies Approval Process for Job Creation Partnerships - The Job Creation Partnerships (JCP) program is continuing to help people gain the work experience and skills necessary to secure a long-term attachment to the labour market. Minister Burke noted that all Job Creation Partnership projects are assessed taking into account factors such as local economic and employment conditions, including the number of Employment Insurance recipients in the region, as well as the benefits for project participants and their communities. (Full Story)

June 6, 2012 - New confined space entry training requirements for 2013 - The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (the Commission) reminds employers and workers that commencing January 1, 2013, workers operating in confined spaces are required to have completed training with an approved confined space entry (CSE) training provider. The training will be enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Branch of Service NL. The new training is valid for three years from the date of completion. (Full Story)

June 1, 2012 - $6.2 Million Investment Supports Job Creation and Community Development - With a total investment of $6,282,709, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is helping 748 people gain valuable work experience and acquire skills that support community projects and build provincial prosperity. The Job Creation Partnerships program is providing employment opportunities for individuals through 114 projects taking place in 88 communities throughout the province. (Full Story)

May 31, 2012 - Over $6.6 Million for Student Employment Programs Provides Nearly 3,000 Jobs for Students - Youth and students can take advantage of employment opportunities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador as the result of over $6.6 million provided by the Provincial Government for employment programs. This funding will benefit nearly 3,000 youth across the province. Employers receiving funding to hire a student are required to post the position on JobsinNL.ca. (Full Story)

May 9, 2012 - House of Assembly Passes Motion for Skilled Trades Opportunities - A resolution to support Provincial Government initiatives that prepare Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for career opportunities in the skilled trades was passed unanimously today in the House of Assembly. "With an expected 70,000 job openings in the next 10 years, the Provincial Government is working on innovative approaches to labour market challenges in Newfoundland and Labrador." said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills. (Full Story)

Nova Scotia:

June 21, 2012 - Province Invests in Good Jobs, Strong Rural Communities - The province is helping to create hundreds of good jobs and strengthen the economy in rural Nova Scotia through an important capital investment in Cooke Aquaculture Inc., Premier Darrell Dexter announced in Shelburne today, June 21. "This investment represents a tremendous opportunity for southwest Nova Scotia, and the entire province," said Premier Dexter. Nova Scotia's aquaculture industry employs more than 750 people, primarily in rural areas, and contributes more than $57 million to the provincial economy. (Full Story)

June 19, 2012 - Canada Day store hours - Nova Scotians are reminded that most retail businesses and stores will be closed Monday, July 2. Because July 1 falls on a Sunday this year, federal legislation requires the Canada Day holiday be observed the next day, Monday, July 2. Canada Day is a listed retail closing day under the provincial Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act, which requires that certain establishments be closed for business on designated holidays. (Full Story)

June 14, 2012 - Province Invests in Manufacturing Company, Protects Rural Jobs -
A wood manufacturing company is strengthening the forestry sector and helping maintain good jobs in rural Nova Scotia. Mat Whynott, MLA for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville, today, June 14, announced, on behalf of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Percy Paris, a $5-million Nova Scotia Jobs Fund investment that will help sustain 167 jobs at Marwood Ltd. The Nova Scotia Jobs Fund pursues investment opportunities for communities in transition, industry sectors, regional support, small businesses programs, infrastructure and large industrial ventures.
(Full Story)

June 6, 2012 - Provinces Establish Atlantic Workforce Partnership - The four Atlantic provinces have come together to establish an Atlantic Workforce Partnership to help prepare the region and its workers for significant economic opportunities on the horizon in the mining, energy and shipbuilding sectors, Premier Darrell Dexter announced today, June 6. The new partnership will help the provinces adapt to changing skills requirements in the workforce and ensure they can meet the anticipated demand for future mining, energy and shipbuilding capital projects. (Full Story)

Ontario:

June 20, 2012 - McGuinty Government Transforming Public Services, Protecting Schools and Hospitals - The passage of the Strong Action for Ontario Act (Budget Measures) launches the next phase of a plan to grow the economy, create jobs and eliminate the deficit while building on the gains made in health care and education. The 2012 Budget takes strong action to eliminate Ontario's deficit by 2017-18 while protecting health care and education, which is essential to creating jobs and growing the economy. (Full Story)

June 8, 2012 - Ensuring Temporary Workers' Rights - Ontario will help ensure fairness in the workplace by proactively inspecting temp agencies across the province in a three-month blitz this summer. Beginning in June, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour will perform targeted inspections to ensure temp agencies are in compliance with the Employment Standards Act. (Full Story)

May 10, 2012 - Health & Safety at Work - A Supervisor's Guide in 5 Steps - In March, 2010, the Minister of Labour appointed an Expert Advisory Panel to review Ontario's occupational health and safety system. The Panel included representatives of organized labour, employers, and the academic community. Throughout 2010, the Panel consulted extensively with stakeholders across the province to identify structural and operational improvements to the organizations and mechanisms supporting both the prevention of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, and the enforcement of occupational health and safety legislation. (Full Story)

May 4, 2012 - Statement From Minister Of Labour On Arthurs Report - Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Labour, released a statement in response to Professor Arthurs' report on the WSIB. The Arthurs Report is a comprehensive review and contains a series of recommendations designed to put Ontario's workplace safety and insurance system on solid financial footing. (Full Story)

April 30, 2012 - Supporting Discoveries And Creating Jobs In Ontario - Ontario is helping researchers in the Toronto area find solutions to global challenges with the potential for future job creation. Through the Early Researcher Awards program, the McGuinty government is helping 28 recently appointed GTA-based researchers make new discoveries while helping to build their research teams, which will create additional jobs for graduate and undergraduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research assistants. (Full Story)

April 27, 2012 0 Helping to Protect New and Young Workers - Ontario is launching a four-month blitz to ensure students are safe and don't get injured while working on their summer jobs. Beginning May 1, 2012, an enforcement blitz will target workplaces where new and young workers are employed. Health and safety inspectors from the Ministry of Labour will check that employers comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. (Full Story)

Prince Edward Island:

June 17, 2012 - Designation of Canada Day for the purposes of the PEI Employment Standards Act - The Government of Prince Edward Island has received a number of inquiries about the Employment Standards Act as July 1 falls on a Sunday this year. In accordance with the federal Holidays Act, Prince Edward Island businesses are being advised that, for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, July 2, not July 1, is considered a paid holiday and employees must be compensated accordingly. (Full Story)

June 13, 2012 - Working group on Federal job losses releases report - A working group made up of the City of Charlottetown, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island has released a report it commissioned into the scope and impact of potential federal job cuts on Prince Edward Island. "From the perspective of the City of Charlottetown, these study findings are a cause of significant concern." Said Mayor Clifford Lee. (Full Story)

June 11, 2012 - 2011 WCB Annual Report released - The WCB is pleased to announce the release of our 2011 Annual Report. The report describes the accomplishments of the past year as we worked together with our stakeholders to promote safe workplaces and protect Island workers and employers. A summary of the Annual Report will be presented at the WCB Annual Public Meeting, and stakeholders and members of the public are invited to attend. (Full Story)

Saskatchewan:

June 8, 2012 - New All-Time High For Employment In Saskatchewan - There are more people working in Saskatchewan than ever before, according to the latest employment numbers released today by Statistics Canada. Employment increased by 10,400 people from May 2011 to May 2012, to an all-time high of 546,300. Saskatchewan's year-over-year growth rate of 1.9 per cent was the second highest among the provinces, behind Alberta. (Full Story)

June 6, 2012 - Job Postings Up 25 Per Cent On Saskjobs.ca - SaskJobs.ca continues to help workers and families connect to new opportunities in Saskatchewan. There were 16,779 jobs posted on the site in May, a 25 per cent increase compared to a year ago. More than half of all the jobs posted in May were full time positions and that trend continues to move upward. (Full Story)

June 4, 2012 - Skilled Trades Week Highlights Stable, Rewarding Careers - The Government of Saskatchewan has designated June 3 to 9 as Skilled Trades Week in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) is proud to provide training in response to the growing needs of Saskatchewan industry and, in turn, help stimulate additional growth in the labour force and economy. (Full Story)

May 31, 2012 - Saskatchewan's Average Wage Hits Highest Level Ever - Saskatchewan's average weekly earnings reached an all-time high of $918.15 in March 2012 according to Statistics Canada. Saskatchewan's 5.9 per cent jump in average wages from a year ago was the highest among all provinces and well above the national increase of 2.1 per cent. Saskatchewan's $51.50 increase was almost three times as high as the $17.91 national increase. (Full Story)

May 30, 2012 - Youth Looking For Summer Jobs Must Complete Worker Readiness Certificate Course - Summer is fast approaching and youth in the province, 14 and 15 year-olds, who are interested in summer jobs, must complete Saskatchewan's Young Worker Readiness Certificate Course (YWRCC) in order to work. Since the 2010 launch of the online certificate course, 10,274 Young Workers Employment Certificates have been issued. The online course is currently being updated to enhance its interactivity and usability. (Full Story)

May 17, 2012 - Saskatchewan Government Strengthens OHS Act To Protect Workers - The government has passed amendments to The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, which will see enhanced occupational health and safety duties for employers, supervisors, contractors and suppliers. These amendments are the result of a comprehensive review by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety's Occupational Health and Safety Council and consultations with stakeholders. (Full Story)

May 11, 2012 - Another Record Month For Employment In Saskatchewan - Employment in Saskatchewan grew by 13,100 in April 2012, a 2.5 per cent increase in job growth compared to a year ago and the largest jump since June 2009. The employment growth rate in Saskatchewan was the third highest among provinces. Saskatchewan's unemployment rate remained the lowest in the country in April, tied with Alberta at 4.9 per cent and well below the national unemployment rate of 7.3 per cent. (Full Story)

May 4, 2012 - Job Postings On Saskjobs.Ca Jump By Nearly 40 Per Cent In April - Employers continue to make SaskJobs.ca their site of choice to post a range of jobs across Saskatchewan - there was a 37.6 per cent increase in job vacancies posted on the site in April 2012 compared to the same month last year. There were 15,514 job postings last month. The majority of employment postings are for full time employment. (Full Story)

May 1, 2012 - WCB's 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) Reports 2011 Results - While a new financial reporting system shows a modest $7 million operating loss last year, overall 2011 results were positive, Chairperson David Eberle told the WCB's 18th Annual General Meeting. "The most constructive outcome is that our 2011 results are meaningful for the working men and women of our province, and for the business owners who employ them," Eberle stressed. (Full Story)


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Policy Review

When was the last time your human resource policy manual was reviewed?

Well, if you're like many organizations, I'll bet your HR policy manuals are out of date. For instance, have you updated the manual to include the new Manitoba flextime rules? Do you have a policy for armed forces reservist leave? Has an employee inquired about and/or requested use of the compassionate care leave provisions? These are just a few of the changes made over the past few years.

Or, just as challenging, are you one of those organizations that have several copies of their HR manuals spread all throughout the organization, but with different dates and levels of currency? Can your managers find the appropriate HR policies when they need them? Perhaps you simply have too many loose memos regarding policy changes, but you don't ever seem to get them inserted into the policy manual. As well, I am sure there are others who have attempted to create online access through the company intranet, but that project, too, may have been set aside and therefore not finished and is not usable.

So, what happens when your policy manuals are out of date? First of all, you can bet there is considerable inconsistency among departments occurring within your organization. Policies are guidelines for managers and without them decisions are often made based on interpersonal relationships and informal agreements that can lead to perceptions of favouritism or even worse, it might create some unexpected costs for your organization.

For instance, I remember an incident with a client where a receptionist willingly responded to her boss's request to occasionally run a special task for him over her lunch hour. While he thought she felt appreciated by doing special things for him and/or was enjoying the fresh air, the receptionist was busy counting her overtime hours. Lo and behold two years later, a new boss arrives to find out the receptionist has over 200 hours of booked and "authorized" overtime. A problem, to say the least!

Where does one start? First of all, you need to keep in mind that writing a policy manual from scratch and/or revising an outdated policy manual is time consuming -- it can take up to a year of work. Therefore, plan a schedule that allows you time to conduct research, consult managers, review legislation, prepare drafts and write, rewrite, edit, write and rewrite. Following the steps below will assist you to develop a smooth process for policy review and writing.

  • New policy requirements -- Use a template document that requires managers to outline their new policy requests. The template should request information on why the policy is needed, how it fits in with established policies, whether there may be overlaps that should be addressed, or if it replaces a current policy.
  • Set up a policy committee -- While one person, typically the HR manager, might be assigned to write a policy statement, it is wise to have a committee of detail-oriented managers who will review the policies with that old-fashioned fine-tooth comb. It is amazing how different perspectives can add value to how your policies will be implemented.
  • Conduct informal research -- Hopefully, your HR manager will have been tracking policy areas that have been causing concern. Hold a set of meetings with managers to brainstorm issues that need to be dealt with and that can be rectified with a policy. Determine if the issues are actually policy versus training concerns.
  • Review current legislation -- There are typically frequent notices sent out from an employment standards department, but there are also policies from different departments that need to be consulted. This includes legislation such as workplace safety and health and/or workers compensation. Develop a checklist of new policies, research the details and prepare to incorporate the legislation into your policy manual.
  • Review each policy -- Use a critical eye to proofread and examine each policy for clarity, conciseness and coherence. Be sure to keep the reader in mind; in other words, keep your policies simple and straightforward. Avoid company jargon, acronyms, and/or big trendy words. Eliminate phrases that are redundant as well as those unnecessary words and clichés.
  • Confirm your policy framework -- The policies need to be written in a consistent manner. My preference is to include a headline banner that provides the title, dates of approval, dates of revision and the department that has authorization over the policy. Next, add a section to describe the policy in brief and then describe to whom the policy applies.
  • Write, edit, rewrite, edit and rewrite -- Once finished the first draft of your policies, send it to another reader for their own review. At the same time, set it aside yourself for a few days and then reread it. You'll be surprised at the changes you will make after a few days of rest. Finally, determine which policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel to make sure you are onside and have not misinterpreted any legislation.
  • Plan your design and layout -- The idea here is to make the policy manual easy to read and to ensure that people can find the policies easily. Pay attention to the title of each policy. Determine if you will file the policies alphabetically and/or by section and number. Use help icons where possible. Use inserts in the margins to direct readers to key points. Allow for a good deal of white space so that the content is not overcrowding.
  • Identify change management issues -- This is particularly important if there are major changes in the policies that will cause trepidation amongst employees. Be sure to give an appropriate notice period. Consider introducing major new changes on a bit of a slower implementation schedule.
  • Develop a communication and training plan -- One of the key purposes of policies is to create consistency throughout the organization and so it is critical that managers receive training on the new policies and their role in implementation. Develop a communications plan for your employees and then determine who needs to know and how will you advise them. Use your company newsletter, prepare a question and answer document, and/or hold a central staff meeting.

When was the last time your human resource policy manual was reviewed? If your policies are indeed out of date, then your organization is at risk not only of contravening legislation but also creating risk in the area of financial accountability. Not only that, since policies are representative of organization culture, the lack of current policies will speak volumes about the value of ensuring fairness and equity in your organization.

Article courtesy of Barbara Bowes - Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP, is president of Legacy Bowes Group and vice-president of Waterhouse Executive Search. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com