The Legalities of Employee Benefits
Let’s me start by stating MP Benefits Inc. is not a law firm, nor are we lawyers. Our insights are gained through observation, related readings, and experiences. Even the most common of situations can create a liability issue for a well-meaning business owner.
There have been more than a few situations in which spouses who are both employed within the same organization have been declined access to benefits because an employer “thought” they need only offer benefits to one or the other, but not both. This is but one example of discrimination based on marital status.
It’s a fact, employers offer a group benefit plan as a perk—a non-taxable compensation package. Still, no employer is legally obligated to implement a benefit plan. Once they do, though, there are many plan liabilities that could lead to lawsuits. Attention to detail and proper documentation are critical in your interactions with plan members to avoid putting your company at risk.
The Employment Standards Act by helping to maintain fairness, accuracy, and efficiency is one legal entity governing benefit plans. By offering a group plan, in essence, an employer is agreeing to follow all of the rules, including, but not limited to the Anti-Discrimination Rule.
- Benefits plans
- Continuity of employment
- Equal pay
- Leaves of absence
- And much more
Discriminating between employees, employee dependents, beneficiaries, or survivors with regard to their age, sex, or marital status is prohibited. Even employers with the best intentions can make discrimination mistakes that land them in trouble with the Ministry of Labour, which administers the ESA and its regulation.
This doesn’t mean an employer cannot classify various employees into different groups according to their length of service and occupational title, even their location, it simply means this has to be consistently, with intention and in advance. Allow us to work with you and custom design a package that fits like a glove and rewards your most valuable asset—the human capital of your firm.
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