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Change Is in the Air: Prospective Reforms Coming to Ontario’s ESA

Posted by HRdownloads on Jun 8, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Look out, Ontario—the provincial government has stated its commitment to making significant changes to the province’s employment legislation, and when these changes come about, it’s likely they will affect your workplace.

The government recently released a report after a two-year review of the changing nature of Ontario workplaces. Very little change has been made to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) since Premier Mike Harris’s administration ended in 2002. In response to this, the review addresses Ontario’s changing workplaces. According to the report, two of the biggest trends are the increasing number of smaller companies that provide goods and services to larger companies, and that the Millennial workforce is more dependent on part-time and contract work. The review focuses on how Ontario can improve the working conditions for vulnerable workers by addressing barriers and providing solutions for both employers and employees.

On May 30, Premier Kathleen Wynne responded to the recommendations made in the report and announced that the government will begin implementing changes by focusing on the following measures:

  • Raising Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and then to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019;
  • Removing the 50-worker threshold and requiring all employers to provide personal emergency leave, including two paid days per year to all employees;
  • Increasing vacation entitlements to three weeks per year after five years of employment with the same employer;
  • Mandating equal pay for equal work between part-time and full-time employees, and pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies; and
  • Making employee scheduling fairer by mandating that employers pay their employees for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of their scheduled start time.

Following Premier’s Wynne’s announcement, Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, was introduced and then referred to the standing committee on June 1, 2017. In addition to the measures indicated by Premier Wynne, the Bill contains additional changes recommended in the report, including changes to scheduling procedures, overtime pay, public holidays and holiday pay, protected leaves (such as family leave and the crime-related death or disappearance leave), additional protections for workers hired through temporary work agencies, and changes to labour relations in Ontario.

The proposed changes will result in significant reforms being made to Ontario’s employment landscape. It’s important for employers to be prepared so that if and when this legislation is rolled out, they can make the changes to their workplace with minimal disruption to their operations. Take a look at how you can prepare for the impending changes using our FREE guide to the proposed Ontario ESA updates.

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Sources:
Government of Ontario, The Changing Workplaces Review - Final Report
Government of Ontario, The Changing Workplaces Review – Summary Report
Government of Ontario, Newsroom: Proposed Changes to Ontario’s Employment and Labour Laws

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Topics: Ontario, Employment Standards

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