Ontario employment legislation 2017

Is Your Business Ready for Changes to Ontario Employment Legislation?

Start preparing now for major changes in Ontario employment legislation 2017.

Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017  proposes dramatic changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. The legislation is being introduced in response to a two year study of current employment laws. The Changing Workplace Review released its final report in May with 173 recommendations.  The report identified that the nature of work has changed, Ontario’s employment laws have fallen behind and are failing to support workers in part-time, contract or minimum-wage work

The Bill has received a lot of criticism from business groups, especially small and medium sized businesses. Despite business concerns the Bill has moved forward with only minimal changes to date. The Bill passed 2nd reading in October and has been referred to standing committing for review. 

What Your Business Needs to Know about the Changes Proposed in Bill 148:

Minimum Wage Increase to $15 per Hour

  • January 2018 minimum wage increases to $14.00 per hour.
  • January 2019 minimum wage increase to $15.00 per hour.

Equal Pay for Part-time, Temporary and Full-time workers

  • Workers performing the same job must be paid the same wage, regardless of the worker’s status as part-time, temporary or full-time employee.

Scheduling

New rules around scheduling work are being proposed to protect workers. Some exceptions are outlined in the legislation for emergency situations. 

  • Request Changes: employees will have protection to request changes in shift and location without repercussion,
  • Right to Refuse Changes: employees will have the right to refuse work scheduled with less than 96 hours notice,
  • Cancellation: guaranteed minimum three hours pay when work is cancelled with less than 48 hours notice,
  • Minimum Three Hours: guaranteed minimum three hours pay where employee required to work less than 3 hours, 
  • On-Call Minimum Three Hours: guaranteed minimum three hours pay for employees on-call.

Paid Vacation 

  • Workers with 5 or more years service with an employer would be entitled to 3 weeks paid vacation.

Emergency Leave

  • 10 days emergency leave each year, including 2 paid emergency leave days for all workers.

Pregnancy and Parental Leave Extended

  • Extension of job protected pregnancy and parental leave up to 18 months to match the Federal Government’s recent extension of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for pregnancy and parental leave.  

Employee Misclassification

  • Employers who misclassify their employees as “independent contractors” could be subject to penalties including prosecution and fines. 

Stronger Penalties

  • Stronger penalties for employers who do not comply with Employment Standards including increase in monetary penalties, interest on unpaid wages, and publishing of the names of individuals who have been issued a penalty and a description of the contravention.

Record Keeping 

  • Employers will have additional responsibilities for record keeping.

Next Steps – Consultations 

Additional public consultations on Bill 148 were held last week by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Next steps will include potential for amendments to the Bill and referral to 3rd reading. 

For additional information on the Ontario employment legislation 2017 proposed changes refer to the Ontario Ministry of Labour News

Carol Irwin

Carol works with our clients to develop and improve HR policies, procedures, employee programs, and solve difficult people management issues.

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