Ontario’s Bill 149: Key Changes Impacting Employers & Workers

Written by on July 3, 2024 in Employment Law Blog, Employment Law Issues

Bill 149 further burdens employers, provides more rights to employees

On March 21, 2024, Ontario’s employment landscape witnessed significant changes with the enactment of Bill 149, the Working for Workers Four Act, 2024 (Bill 149). This comprehensive legislation introduces amendments to various statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), impacting employers across the province.

Here’s a closer look at what Ontario employers need to know about Bill 149 and its implications for their operations.

March 21, 2024 – Changes to the ESA

The immediate changes to the ESA include redefining the term “employee” to encompass individuals working during a “trial period.” This expansion ensures that employees in trial periods are entitled to minimum standards under the ESA, providing them with essential protections from the outset of their employment.

Moreover, Bill 149 expands the prohibition on deductions from wages. Employers are now expressly prohibited from deducting wages due to customer non-payment in establishments such as restaurants or gas stations. This amendment reinforces the principle that employees should not bear the financial burden of customer-related losses incurred by their employers.

June 21, 2024 – Further Changes to the ESA

On June 21, 2024, Bill 149 brought significant changes related to tips and gratuities. Employers must now adhere to specific payment methods for tips and gratuities, ensuring that employees receive their earned compensation promptly. Additionally, employers with tip-sharing policies must post these policies conspicuously in their establishments and retain written copies for a designated period. These provisions aim to enhance transparency and fairness in tip distribution practices across various industries.

Another notable change pertains to vacation pay. Employers will now need a written agreement with employees to pay vacation pay at times that are different from those stipulated by the ESA. This requirement emphasizes the importance of clear communication and mutual agreement between employers and employees regarding vacation pay arrangements.

Future Changes to the ESA

Bill 149 introduces additional requirements concerning publicly advertised job postings, set to take effect on a future date to be named by proclamation. These changes aim to enhance transparency and fairness in the hiring process by mandating disclosures related to AI usage, compensation information and restrictions on requiring prior Canadian work experience. Employers will also be required to retain copies of job postings and associated application forms for a specified period, ensuring accountability and compliance with employment standards.

Changes to Other Legislation

In addition to amendments to the ESA, Bill 149 impacts other legislation relevant to employment in Ontario. For instance, amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, extend presumptive entitlement to benefits for firefighters diagnosed with primary-site esophageal cancer after 15 years of employment.

Contact Minken Employment Lawyers Today

If you are an employer or employee, it is crucial to seek expert legal advice to navigate Bill 149 effectively. Contact Minken Employment Lawyers (Est. 1990) at 905-477-7011 or email us at contact@minken.com for professional guidance and support in all your employment law matters. Our experienced team is here to help you understand your rights and obligations under the law.

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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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