NORTH HURON – North Huron CAO Dwayne Evans presented the new human resources manual to council at its Sept. 13 meeting.
Fundamental principles considered in preparing the new policies and procedures are as follows:
- ensure compliance with the ESA, Ontario Human Rights Code, Occupational Health & Safety Act, and other applicable legislation;
- ensure the policies and procedures accurately reflect human resource practices that have evolved in North Huron over time;
- ensure the policies clearly outline the rights and obligations of employees;
- ensure internal consistency between different policies and procedures;
- maximize cost savings and efficiency while maintaining employee satisfaction;
- ensure all staff (full-time, part-time, contract, temporary, permanent) are treated fairly and consistently; and
- continue to remain an employer of choice in a competitive job market.
Key changes made in preparing the new policies and procedures are as follows:
- the language was revised to achieve compliance with current provincial legislation;
- employee classifications were created to assist in determining employee compensation packages;
- legacy shared service policies for the public works department were eliminated to ensure all staff are treated fairly and consistently;
- current legal requirements have been captured in the new policies and procedures;
- core policies for all departments were developed with some flexibility to allow departmental operational variations;
- several policies were combined and sections reorganized;
- policies in violation of provincial legislation such as ‘Employee Dating’ were removed from the manual;
- new policies were added to address driver license requirements and suspensions, impairment (alcohol or drugs) at work, early and safe return to work, remote work/work from home, pandemic protocol, facility closures and emergencies, statutory leaves of absence, required designation, licenses and qualifications, and succession planning. In addition, a notable new policy added speaks to a transition and grace period for any employee disadvantaged by adopting the new policies and procedures. The transition and grace period is defined as 12 months from the effective date of the new HR manual;
- vacation entitlements have been adjusted to allow staff vacation earlier in their careers when their families are young, with a reduced maximum vacation time allotment later in their careers;
The new policies and procedures include the inclusion of firefighters who should receive vacation pay.
According to Evan’s report, the township’s lawyer has advised firefighters are entitled to vacation pay.
“In addition to receiving vacation pay on a go forward basis, the HR lawyer has advised consideration should be given to two years of retro vacation pay for the firefighters. For the period Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2021, the total amount of retro pay to be paid out is approximately $22,000,” stated Evans’ report.
The vacation policy also saw changes that resulted in seven full-time employees receiving an additional week of paid vacation time. The full-time employee lost time is equivalent to approximately $9,000.
The new human resource policies and procedures were recommended to take effect retroactively on Sept. 1, 2021, with a 12-month transition and grace period. The transition and grace period is primarily for the public works staff who will be affected by eliminating the legacy shared service policies.
Concerning the elimination of the legacy shared service policies and using 2019 and 2020 payroll information, it is projected this policy change will result in a savings of approximately $5,500—no increase to taxation.
According to the report, employees have a minimum of one week to review the manual. After that, they will be given the opportunity to have the new policies and procedures explained in small group settings.
In addition, all employees will be required to sign a new employment contract and consideration agreements. The human resources lawyer has advised these requirements also apply to the firefighters.
The new human resources manual will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for all staff on the township’s intranet. In addition, staff will review all human resource policies annually to ensure compliance with current legislation.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times