On November 22, 2017, Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 was passed. The amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act will have a significant impact on employers throughout Ontario and will require employers to, sometimes drastically, alter their current business practices. Beyond raising the general minimum wage to $14.00/hour on January 1, 2018 and to $15.00/hour on January 1, 2019, which will undoubtedly have a huge impact on businesses throughout the Province, there are many other changes of which employers should be aware.
Bill 148 requires employers to pay their casual, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees the same as their full-time employees when performing the same job.
Another change is that employers are prohibited from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. With this change, employers must be cautious when hiring independent contractors to ensure they are not technically employees.
There are also several revisions and additions in regards to scheduling, including the ability for employees of at least 3 months to request a change to their schedules and work location, and scenarios where the employer must pay the employee a minimum of three hours regular wage when there has been a certain type of change to the employee’s schedule. Further, an employee’s minimum vacation entitlement is increased from 2 weeks to 3 weeks for employees who have worked for the same employer for 5 or more years.
Bill 148 includes many changes in regards to an employee’s leave entitlements, including:
- all employees are entitled to 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave – two of those days being paid – and employers are not able to request a certificate from a qualified health practitioner from an employee who takes the leave;
- Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave is created;
- the length of Family Medical Leave is extended;
- the end of Pregnancy Leave would be extended when the employee is not entitled to Parental Leave;
- Critically Ill Child Care Leave is renamed to Critical Illness Leave and is expanded to include children and adult family members; and,
- Crime-related Child Death or Disappearance Leave is split into two separate leaves – Child Death Leave and Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave.
Bill 148 also includes provisions to aid in the enforcement of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Monetary penalties are increased for employers who breach the Employment Standards Act, 2000. In addition, the Ministry of Labour is able to publically publish (including online) the name of the individual who was issued a notice of contravention, a description and date of the contravention, and the amount.
Further, Bill 148 adds a section to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that prohibits employers from requiring workers to wear high heels unless it is required for the workers to safety perform their work or if the employer is in the entertainment or advertising industry.
These are just some examples of the changes that come with Bill 148’s passing. It is important for employers to be aware of the changes, when they come into force, and how it can affect their business practices. Knowledge and preparation are key when it comes to tackling these changes head on.