Have you ever read your province’s employment standards legislation? Cover-to-cover, all 100-plus sections? These regulations bind every business in the country, but how many owners understand the contents?
A couple of years ago, we began hearing from our clients that ESA compliance had become increasingly challenging. So, we did some digging, and the data we received was shocking. For instance, Ontario alone saw 11 718 ESA violation investigations in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
We saw a difficult situation. On the one hand, staying compliant is an enormous task for many small businesses, and most violations aren’t deliberate. On the other hand, employees’ rights are unassailable. We’re a business too, and we wouldn’t be here without our team.
We realized you’d need to be a computer to understand the innumerable and evolving compliance laws. That’s when our “Aha!” moment arrived – what if every business did have a computer to analyze and apply the labour laws to their situation? What if it could protect employers and their employees?
So that’s what we built. We’re excited to announce an early version of our Offboarding Assistant – a digital co-pilot that helps businesses stay compliant. We’re sharing this early version with our professional community of accountants and bookkeepers.
Think of this as an assistant that “knows” the regulation. It’ll ask you questions and then calculate your termination pay obligations using your province’s laws.
Take compliance into your hands.
Labour violations are expensive and time-consuming. Business owners face the daunting task of consolidating hundreds of facts with shifting real-world scenarios.
That’s where your new digital assistant comes in; it knows the regulations and can apply the facts to save you time.
Say you need to terminate an employee – you provide your digital assistant with the facts, and it’ll determine what’s relevant and then calculate your requirements based on the law. You’ll know your obligations regarding severance, vacation and holiday pay.
We see the Offboarding Assistant as an opportunity to elevate the compliance game in Canada. We’re setting an example that ignoring compliance is no longer justifiable. By investing our money, time and resources, we hope there are knock-on effects; we want to show that the compliance issues are solvable with machine learning and that everyone should do better. Businesses can take compliance into their own hands.
We’re also establishing Canada as an innovation centre. This is a homegrown product – made in Canada, for Canadian businesses, by Canadians.
So how does it work?
How does this work, anyway? We’re glad you asked. Essentially, we approached it as a theorem-proving problem; the assistant reasons with the regulations and provided facts to prove a company’s compliance.
We began by teaching our machines the laws – translating them into logic they could process. This way, the assistants “know” the rules. But that was only the first step – the assistant must know the relevant facts and the necessary calculations.
Since much of the necessary information can be gleaned from our databases, we linked the machine with our records. This way, it could quickly absorb the relevant facts about a specific company.
The rest of the data must come from the user. Fortunately, our system establishes the necessary information to ask the minimum number of questions. Someone using the assistant in Quebec would receive a different set of questions to someone in Ontario. The goal is to ask as little from the user as possible.
Once all the information is in, the assistant calculates compliance. Now that it has its theorem, it can prove compliance in seconds. And so, in minutes, you’ll know what steps you need to take to ensure you’ve done right by your employee.
There’s more to the tool than the calculation. We wanted our assistant to help correct an emerging issue in machine learning – it needed to show how and why it arrived at its calculation. So, after every use, we provide a PDF that breaks down the calculations and details any assumptions and disclaimers. We want this record to help professionals (business owners, accountants, lawyers or HR professionals) understand the compliance process.
The SOOJ approach (stay out of jail)
We mentioned assumptions – let’s talk about that for a second. To keep this process streamlined, the machine must make a few assumptions. In general, we’ve made these assumptions to favour the employee – this way, you’re assured compliance with your provincial or territorial employment standards legislation. You may pay slightly more than needed but never less.
We also want to clarify that the Offboarding Assistant does not address civil lawsuits filed by employees. We can help protect employers from provincial labour violations but not against civil suits – that, we believe, is beyond current software.
Our mission is firmly to empower Canadian small businesses. We’re here to help them save time and money by taking a compliance-first approach to building better payroll software.
See how it works
See for yourself how easy the process is – check out our short Offboarding Assistant demo.