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Employer Advice – Bill 47: How Can Employers Prepare for January?

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Two weeks ago, Doug Ford’s proposed Bill 47 (The Making Ontario Open for Business Act) was officially passed on November 21—including several amendments to Wynne’s Bill 148 (The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act). It will now take effect next month at the beginning of 2019. Once again, this will impact various aspects of the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Not the least of which is the hot-button minimum wage issue.

Changing the Legislation

Even though it will not be part of the legislation anymore, some employers may feel inclined to carry through on the minimum wage increase from $14 to $15 per hour anyway. Overturning the plans to increase wages could essentially lead to plummeting morale and decreased faith in the goodwill of the company. Not to mention the possibility of constructive dismissal claims. Legally, the provincial plan is to keep minimum wage unchanged for another year. It will then proceed to rise along with natural inflation. Raising minimum wage was well-intentioned, but it was difficult for smaller companies to comply at such a fast rate. This was a hike greater than 30 percent to occur in under three years. Bill 47 was supposedly introduced in an effort to improve job creation, but legal experts at Baker McKenzie suggest organizations should proceed with caution. Our experts can advise on how to manage employee expectations regarding minimum wage.

Opposing More Former Proposals

Other components involved in the bill include repealing such considerations to employees as payment for three hours when cancelling scheduled or on-call shifts with under 48 hours’ notice. This overturns public holiday pay to be the same for part-time employees as full-time and repealing equal pay for equal work on the basis of employment status. Bill 148 also forbids employers from misclassifying employees as independent contractors, volunteers, unpaid interns, etc. when they were not. However, Bill 47 will deny employer responsibility to ensure the correct classification.

Emergency leave

Contrary to Bill 148 again, employees’ former emergency leave will be significantly affected by Bill 47. Under the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, employers will have to provide:

  • Three days of unpaid sick leave (when an employee falls ill).
  • Three days of unpaid family responsibility leave (when an employee needs to care for a loved one).
  • Two days of unpaid bereavement leave (after the passing of a loved one).

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs had previously expanded emergency leave to include two paid days for any of the above.

Additional elements

Compliance officers can also conduct audits. Furthermore, employers must ensure their employment policies and contracts do not violate the terms that Bill 47 lays out. However, maximum penalties in the event of a violation have decreased from $350 to $250, $700 to $500, and $1,500 to $1,000. Prepare for January by planning your company’s next steps now. Our human resources team at Peninsula offers helpful employer advice and guidance for small and medium businesses like yours.

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