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What is the Working for Workers Act, 2021 – It’s Impact on Employers?

Written by on December 4, 2021 in Employment Law Blog, Employment Law Issues
Working for Workers Act, 2021

On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, the Ontario government passed the Working for Workers Act, 2021

The following are some of the details of the bill and how they will affect the workplace. 

Highlights of the Working for Workers Act, 2021 

Disconnecting from work

The legislation aims to help employees disconnect from work and create a better work-life balance. It defines the term, “disconnect from work” to mean, “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing of other messages, to be free from the performance of work.” 

Employers who employ 25 or more employees are required to have a written policy with respect to allowing employees to disconnect from work. 

In addition, employers are required to provide a copy of the written policy to each of their employees within 30 days of preparing the policy or, if an existing written policy is changed, within 30 days of the changes being made. Employers must also include the date the policy was prepared and the date any changes were made to the policy. 

The end of non-compete agreements

The legislation prohibits employers from entering into an employment contract or other agreement with an employee that includes a non-competition agreement. However, there are two exceptions that allow parties to enter into a non-competition agreement. The first exception applies to a business owner who sells the business and then becomes an employee of that business immediately following the sale. The second exception applies to an employee who is in an executive position. 

Removal of Canadian experience requirements

This would remove barriers to employment for foreign trained individuals that requires them to get Canadian experience before obtaining their license for certain professions. This is done through amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006. This will benefit employers by helping them gain access to a larger pool of candidates to fill positions. Internationally trained workers would still be expected to comply with language proficiency requirements. 

Licensing requirements for recruiting and temp agencies

To protect vulnerable workers, the legislation requires recruiting and temporary help agencies to be licensed through the Director of Employment Standards. 

Washroom access for delivery workers

Business owners are required to grant access to the company’s washroom to delivery workers who are delivering or picking up from the business. This requirement is through an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Exceptions include:

  • If providing access is not reasonable for health and safety reasons.
  • If providing access is not reasonable for reasons related to security or the nature of the business. 
  • If the washroom can only be accessed by going through a private dwelling. 

Allowing WSIB surpluses to be used to assist with COVID-19 recovery

The legislation allows qualifying employers to receive amounts of funding from WSIB surplus over and above the currently prescribed amounts, if those funds are needed to help offset the impacts of COVID-19. 

Streamlining employer remittance

Additionally, WSIB and Canada Revenue Agency will combine efforts to streamline the remittances for businesses. For example, employers can submit WSIB premiums and payroll deductions in one streamlined process. 

Enhancing information gathering in the agricultural sector

Finally, the legislation also allows the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to gather workforce information from employers to provide for better government coordination of services such as COVID-19 testing and vaccination as well as other issues that may arise. 

Contact Minken Employment Lawyers today

If you are an employer with questions about the Working for Workers Act, 2021, and how to comply with this legislation, contact Minken Employment Lawyers today to speak with a member of our team or call us at 905-477-7011.  

Minken Employment Lawyers is your source for expert advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues. Sign up for our newsletter to receive up-to-date Employment Law information, including new legislation and Court decisions impacting your workplace. 

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

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