Attention Ontario employers: workplace standards are about to change very soon.
On November 22, 2017, Ontario made an announcement to pass the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. The new legislation will have an impact on how businesses operate, by changing the obligations of employers under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), 2000, Labour Relations Act (LRA), 1995, and Occupational Health and Safety Act. Officially, the Act will:
- Raise the minimum wage;
- Mandate equal pay for equal work;
- Expand personal emergency leave; and
- Increase efforts to enforce laws.
Recap: what you need to know about the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act
Are you familiar with Bill 148 and the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act? We’ve been following the changes every step of the way. Here’s a recap, just in case. In February 2015, the Ministry of Labour initiated the Changing Workplaces Review to address today’s modern workplace, workforce, and the economy. Since releasing the Report, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act has progressed over the course of 2017, as follows: May 23: The Government of Ontario releases the Changing Workplaces Review May 30: Ontario formally announces its intention to introduce proposed legislation, with the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 June 1: Bill 148 to create Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs passes the first reading; Ontario proposes five ESA amendments:
- Minimum wage
- Equal pay for equal work
- Personal emergency leave
- Vacation entitlement and pay
- Employee scheduling
June 6: Ontario proposes amendments to the working conditions of temporary help agency workers, including:
- Equal pay for equal work
- Increase to minimum wage
- New unionization model
- Paid personal emergency leave
June 8: Ontario proposes 10 days personal emergency leave, two of which are paid for all workers July 10: The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs begins two-week consultations September 18: Ontario introduces the Employment Standards Training and Education Program to protect employees and support employers October 5: Ontario proposes expanded job-protected leave for workers who are victims of domestic or sexual violence October 18: Bill 148 to create Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs passes the second reading November 8: Ontario proposes to paid personal emergency leave for every worker and to prohibit mandatory doctor’s notes November 17: Bill 148 to create Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs ordered for third reading November 22: Ontario passes legislation to create Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs November 27: Ontario’s legislation to create Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs receives royal assent
It is important that business owners prepare for these changes. Where the Changing Workplaces Review placed strong emphasis on compliance measures, the Government of Ontario is hiring up to 175 more employment standards officers to enforce these changes. The new legislation is set to increase fines under the Labour Relations Act to $100,000 for organizations (an escalation from $25,000). If you haven’t begun planning for these changes, we strongly recommended that you take action right away. There are changes that will come into effect as of January 1, 2018. Start by checking out our infographic on the 10 Important Employment Standards Act Changes.