On November 22, 2017, Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 was passed. Bill 148 provides for numerous benefits for employees, improving the working lives of many across Ontario.
The most publicized change is the increase of the general minimum wage to $14.00/hour on January 1, 2018 and to $15.00/hour on January 1, 2019. The benefit of this wage increase to employees goes without saying – a more livable minimum wage can have a huge impact on an employee’s life.
Bill 148 also includes an equal pay for equal work requirement where employers must pay their casual, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees the same as their full-time employees when performing the same job. Employers will no longer be able to hire part-time workers to try and avoid the cost of full-time employees.
Another beneficial change for employees is that there has been an increase to the minimum vacation entitlements. Bill 148 increases vacation from 2 weeks to 3 weeks for employees who have worked for the same employer for 5 or more years.
There are also helpful changes and additions in regards to scheduling. Under Bill 148, employees that have been with the same employer for at least 3 months are allowed to request a change to their schedules and work location. Further, there are specific circumstances where an 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. These scheduling provisions will help create more certainty around an employee’s schedule and what the requirements are if changes are to be made.
The Bill also expands upon employees’ leave entitlements, including: all employees are entitled to 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave – two of those days being paid – and employers cannot request a certificate from a qualified health practitioner from an employee who takes Personal Emergency Leave; Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave is created; the length of Family Medical Leave is extended; the end date of Pregnancy Leave is 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 amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make it illegal for an employer to require workers to wear high heels unless it is required for the worker to safely perform his or her work. However, this requirement does not apply to workers in the entertainment or advertising industry.
These are just some examples of the many employee-friendly workplace changes that come in the wake of Bill 148’s passing. Knowledge of the changes and when they come into force is key to ensuring your rights as an employee are protected and fulfilled.