In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s profound impact on the workplace, the Ontario government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“Bill 27”). Bill 27 is proposed legislation that, if passed, may have significant impacts on Ontario workers.
Currently, Bill 27 is being reviewed by the Standing Committee on Social Policy and will go through further legislative debate before being passed. At Sultan Lawyers, we will provide relevant and timely updates on the status and progress of this proposed legislation.
Four key highlights of Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, are as follows:
- Giving employees the “right to disconnect”;
- Removing non-competition clauses from employment contracts;
- Recognizing the education, skills and experiences of internationally trained foreign workers and;
- Ensuring temporary foreign worker help agencies are licensed.
1. “Right to Disconnect” – Unplugging Outside Work Hours
Under the proposed legislation, workplaces with over 25 employees will be required to have a written policy in place concerning employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday.
It is not clear at this point what the policy must include; however, the policy will aim to encourage employees not to engage in work-related communications outside of working hours. This is intended to improve employees’ work-life balance and protect employees’ personal time outside work hours.
2. Non-Competition Agreements
Non-competition agreements are included in employment contracts to restrict former employees from working for or doing business with competitors of their former employer’s business.
Non-compete clauses are often unenforceable because they can impede an employee’s ability to find a new job following the termination of their employment. However, there are still circumstances in which employers may be able to enforce a non-compete clause by arguing that the clause is necessary to protect the business.
Bill 27 seeks to remove the non-compete clause debate entirely. If passed, the legislation would prevent employers from including a non-compete agreement in an employment contract or any other agreement with an employee.
It is crucial that employees fully understand any employment contract presented to them. Non-competition clauses in a contract can limit an employee’s ability to seek new work opportunities following the termination of their employment. Employees should see advice before signing, so they understand the implications of these clauses.
3. Recognition of Internationally Trained Foreign Workers
Foreign workers entering Canada struggle to have their work experience and related education recognized within the Canadian labour market. This inevitably forces skilled persons into less-skilled professions, thereby impacting the foreign worker’s quality of life and the ability of the labour market to take advantage of the foreign worker’s skills.
Bill 27 proposes eliminating Canadian work experience as a requirement for professional registration and licensing. Should this legislation pass, the changes will apply to specific professions, including law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical and plumbing. The changes will not, however, apply to the medical field.
Additionally, Bill 27 aims to speed up licensing by including language testing as part of required professional testing, thereby eliminating the delays of multiple separate tests. These changes are intended to address the labour shortage in Ontario and provide the opportunity for internationally trained workers in Ontario to build better lives for themselves and their families.
4. Temporary Help Agency Licensing
Lastly, if Bill 27 is passed, temporary help recruiting agencies will require a license to operate and will be penalized for charging workers illegal recruitment fees. These changes aim to assist foreign workers in avoiding scams and deceitful recruiters when looking for work in Ontario.
Contact Sultan Lawyers in Toronto for Advice on Employee Rights
If you have any questions relating to changes proposed by the Working for Workers Act or are curious as to how it may affect your specific employment scenario, contact Sultan Lawyers at 416-214-5111 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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