We would like to share with our valued clients some information on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. The Bill passed Third Reading in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 and received Royal Assent on November 27, 2017. The legislation significantly amends both the Ontario’s Employment Standards Act 2000 and the Labour Relations Act. There are a few minor changes to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. We are sharing this information bulletin with you because most of the changes come into force on January 1, 2018.
Many of the provisions are significant as they are granting either a new benefit or a defined cost increase. Many of the changes will require employers to revise existing policies, HR processes and incur costs. We strongly recommend a proactive approach to managing these changes to minimize the impact on your business. Here are some of the changes:
Employment Standards Act
- Increased Minimum Wage. The general minimum wage will increase to $14 per hour effective January 1, 2018 and $15 per hour effective January 1, 2019. Students will increase to $13.15 and $14.10 respectively and Servers $12.20 and $13.05 respectively.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work. Unless properly differentiated, part-time, casual or temporary employees will be entitled to the same rate of pay as a full-time employee performing substantially similar work. These amendments come into force April 1, 2018.
- Employee Misclassification. The way employers classify an employee must be accurate (independent contractors for example). The employer will now bear the burden of proving the individual is not an employee and the associated penalties. This amendment comes into force on Royal Assent.
- Personal Emergency Leave. All employers now must comply with this leave which allows employees up to ten days of job protected PEL in each calendar year; the first two days of PEL are to be with pay. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Doctors Notes. During the PEL the employer is prohibited from requesting doctor’s notes. After the ten day period, you may ask for a note.
- Scheduling Restrictions. You will have time to prepare for these changes however Bill 148 introduces a number of restrictions on how employers can change the working hours of an employee on short notice. This includes on call, call ins, shift changes and the ability for employees to request a change to his or her work schedule or location. These amendments come into force January 1, 2019.
- After five years of employment with the same employer, an employee will be entitled to three weeks of vacation time and 6% vacation pay. Most employer vacation policies may not meet this new standard. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Public Holiday Pay. The new calculation may be a windfall for many employees who do not work full schedules. The calculation is now “the wages paid to the employee in the pay period prior to the public holiday, divided by the days worked in that pay period”. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Pregnancy Leave. An employee will be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave in the case of a stillbirth or miscarriage, an increase from the existing entitlement of 6 weeks. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Parental Leave. An employee will be able to take up to 61 weeks of parental leave where a pregnancy leave is also taken by the employee, or 63 weeks if no pregnancy leave is taken. This is an increase from the existing entitlement of 35 weeks if pregnancy leave is taken or 37 weeks if no pregnancy leave is taken.
- Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Leave. A new leave related to the domestic violence or sexual assault of the employee or the employee’s child. The first five days of this leave are to be with pay. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Critical Illness Leave. A new leave to provide care and support to a critically ill adult family member and up to 37 weeks to provide care and support to a critically ill family member who is a child (under the age of 18). This amendment comes into force on Royal Assent.
- Child Death Leave and Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave. New leaves of up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave following the death of a child (regardless whether crime-related) or on the crime-related disappearance of a child. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
- Family Medical Leave. An employee will be entitled to a leave of up to 28 weeks in a 52 week period to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks, an increase from the existing entitlement of 8 weeks. This amendment comes into force January 1, 2018.
Labour Relations Act
There are a number of changes which will make workplaces easier to organize. You should become familiar with all the changes but this one change below is the most controversial of all the changes.
- Access to Employee List. Union drives will be easier due to Unions will be able to apply to the Board for access to a list of employees in a proposed bargaining unit for the purpose of organizing the workplace, if they have 20% of members signed up.
To learn more, contact us today at www.pivotalsolutions.com or 1-855-407-3921.