On November 22, 2017, Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 was passed. Bill 148 provided for numerous benefits for employees, improving the working lives of many across Ontario.
The most publicized change was 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 included 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 would no longer be able to hire part-time workers to try and avoid the cost of full-time employees.
Another beneficial change for employees was that there had been an increase to the minimum vacation entitlements. Bill 148 increased vacation from 2 weeks to 3 weeks for employees who have worked for the same employer for 5 or more years.
There were 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 would help create more certainty around an employee’s schedule and what the requirements are if changes are to be made.
The Bill also expanded upon employees’ leave entitlements, including: employees’ entitlement to 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave – two of those days paid – and employers not being able to request a certificate from a qualified health practitioner from an employee who takes Personal Emergency Leave; Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave was created; the length of Family Medical Leave was extended; the end date of Pregnancy Leave was 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 amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make it illegal for an employer to require workers to wear high heels unless it was required for the worker to safely perform his or her work. However, this requirement did not apply to workers in the entertainment or advertising industry.
These were just some examples of the many employee-friendly workplace changes that come in the wake of Bill 148’s passing. On November 21, 2018 Bill 148 was repealed and replaced with Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (“Bill 47”).