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Ontario Proposes New Layoff Rules for At-Home Workers

The landscape of work has been significantly altered in recent years, with remote work becoming increasingly prevalent. As a result, the Ontario government has recognized the need to update the province’s employment laws to provide equal protection and benefits to remote workers during mass layoffs. The proposed changes aim to ensure that remote employees receive the same enhanced notice as their in-office counterparts, preventing companies from exploiting this growing sector of the workforce.

In this article, we will explore the proposed updates to employment laws in Ontario, discuss their potential implications for both employers and employees and examine the broader context of remote work and mass layoffs in the region.

The Growing Trend of Remote Work

Remote work has seen a dramatic increase in recent years, with 2.2 million people working from home in Ontario during the fourth quarter of 2022, including 1.4 million exclusively remote workers and around 800,000 following a hybrid model. This significant shift in the workforce has highlighted the need for updated employment laws that consider the unique circumstances of remote workers and ensure their fair treatment during mass layoffs.

Ontario Government’s Proposed Changes

The proposed updates to Ontario’s employment laws include broadening the definition of “establishment” to encompass remote home offices. This expansion will make employees who work solely from home eligible for the same enhanced notice as in-office workers during mass termination situations, providing them with a minimum eight-week notice of termination or pay-in-lieu.

Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, emphasized the importance of treating remote employees fairly, stating, “No billion-dollar company should be treating their remote employees as second-class.

Additional Protections for New Employees

Alongside the proposed changes for remote workers, the Ontario government aims to provide added protections for new employees. Employers would be required to provide written information about pay, work hours, and work location before the employee’s first shift, ensuring they have a clear understanding of their job expectations and responsibilities. This added transparency will help create a more secure work environment for all employees, regardless of their location.

Mass Layoffs in Tech Sector and Beyond

The tech industry, particularly in the Waterloo region, has experienced several mass layoffs in recent months. Notably, Google announced it would be laying off 12,000 employees last month. It is unclear how many of these employees were working remotely. However, the proposed changes to Ontario’s employment laws could significantly impact the severance packages and notice periods for remote workers in the region and other industries experiencing similar challenges.

In addition to the tech sector, other industries that have seen growth in remote work, such as finance, healthcare, and education, could also be affected by the proposed changes. As more companies adopt remote work arrangements, the need for updated employment laws that protect remote workers during mass layoffs becomes even more crucial.

Impact on Remote Workers and Employers

The proposed updates to Ontario’s employment laws would have a substantial impact on the province’s remote workers. Providing equal protection and benefits to remote workers during mass layoffs would ensure fair treatment and prevent employers from exploiting their remote status. Remote employees would receive the same minimum notice of termination or pay-in-lieu as their in-office counterparts, potentially increasing their severance package.

Employers, on the other hand, would need to adapt their policies and practices to comply with the updated laws, ensuring that remote workers receive the same benefits and protections as in-office colleagues. While this could lead to increased costs for employers during mass layoffs, it would ultimately contribute to a fairer work environment for all employees and help maintain a positive employer-employee relationship.

Challenges and Considerations for Employers

Implementing these proposed changes may present some challenges for employers. For example, accurately tracking remote employees’ work locations and ensuring their inclusion in the definition of “establishment” may require additional administrative efforts. Employers may also need to revise their existing severance packages and termination procedures to ensure compliance with the new laws.

The proposed changes may also encourage some companies to reconsider their approach to remote work. Employers may need to evaluate the potential costs and benefits associated with having remote employees and determine whether any adjustments to their remote work policies are necessary.


Ontario’s proposed changes to employment laws aim to create a more equitable work environment for remote workers by providing them with equal protections and benefits during mass layoffs. These updates would prevent companies from treating remote employees as second-class citizens and ensure fair treatment for all workers in the province.

As the number of remote workers continues to grow, these proposed changes represent a significant step in the right direction for protecting their rights and ensuring a fair work environment for all. Employers will need to adapt to these new regulations and consider their implications carefully, while remote workers can feel more secure in the knowledge that their rights are being recognized and protected by the government.

In conclusion, the proposed updates to Ontario’s employment laws serve to acknowledge the changing landscape of work and the increasing prevalence of remote work arrangements. By offering equal protection and benefits to remote workers during mass layoffs, the government is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable work environment for all employees, regardless of their work location.

Do you have questions about layoff notices for remote or at-home employees or team-members? Ask the experts at Pivotal HR Solutions:

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Ontario proposes new layoff rules for at-home workers | Canadian HR Reporter

Ontario may increase layoff package for remote workers by as much as eight times | Ottawa Citizen

Provincial government proposes legislation to protect remote workers during mass layoffs | CTV News


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