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 had a significant impact on employers throughout Ontario and required 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 undoubtedly had a huge impact on businesses throughout the Province, there were many other changes of which employers had to be aware.
Bill 148 required 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 was that employers were prohibited from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. With this change, employers had to be cautious when hiring independent contractors to ensure they were not technically employees.
There were 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 was increased from 2 weeks to 3 weeks for employees who have worked for the same employer for 5 or more years.
Bill 148 included many changes in regards to an employee’s leave entitlements, including:
- all employees were entitled to 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave – two of those days paid – and employers were not able to request a certificate from a qualified health practitioner from an employee who took leave;
- Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave was created;
- the length of Family Medical Leave was extended;
- the end of Pregnancy Leave would be extended when the employee was not entitled to Parental Leave;
- Critically Ill Child Care Leave was renamed to Critical Illness Leave and was expanded to include children and adult family members; and,
- Crime-related Child Death or Disappearance Leave was split into two separate leaves – Child Death Leave and Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave.
Bill 148 also included provisions to aid in the enforcement of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Monetary penalties were increased for employers who breached the Employment Standards Act, 2000. In addition, the Ministry of Labour was able to publicly 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 prohibited employers from requiring workers to wear high heels unless it was required for the workers to safety perform their work or if the employer was in the entertainment or advertising industry.
These were just some examples of the changes that came with Bill 148’s passing. On November 21, 2018 Bill 148 was repealed and replaced with Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (“Bill 47”).