Changes to Ontario’s Labour Laws

Ontario’s Liberal government passed a multitude of changes to the labour laws – “Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017”. These will be amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Listed below are some (but not all) of the highlights of the legislation:

  • Minimum wage increases from $11.60 an hour to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018, then to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019 and is subject to an annual inflation adjustment on Oct. 1 of every year starting in 2019.
  • After five years of employment, the employee is entitled to three weeks’ vacation.
  • Public Holiday pay calculation has been amended and is to be based on the number of days actually worked in the pay period immediately preceding the public holiday.
  • Personal emergency leave no longer only applies to workers at companies with 50 or more employees. All workers will get 10 days per year leave, with two of them paid.
  • Casual, part-time, temporary and season employees will be given the same pay as full-time employees for doing equal work; exemptions with seniority and merit.
  • Victims of domestic or sexual violence, or parents of children who have experienced or are threatened with it, will get five days of paid leave and 17 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave.
  • Employers will not be allowed to request a sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • Parents whose children have died will get unpaid leave up to 104 weeks.
  • Employers must pay three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with fewer than 48 hours’ notice, with weather-dependent work exempted.
  • Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if the employer gives them less than four days’ notice.
  • Employees on call must be paid three hours at their regular rate.
  • Companies that misclassify workers as “independent contractors” instead of employees (to skirt labour law obligations) would be subject to fines.
  • The maximum fine for employers who violate employment standards laws will be increased from $250, $500 and $1,000 for various violations to $350, $700 and $1,500.00. Also, the government will publish the names of those who are fined.
  • Ease restrictions on union certification and allow unions to access employee lists and certain contract information if the union can demonstrate it has the support of 20% of employees.
  • Makes it easier for the home care community services workers, people in the building services sector, and those who work through temp. agencies to unionize.
  • The maximum fines under the Labour Relations Act will increase from $2,000 for individuals and $25,000 for organizations to $5,000 and $100,000.

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