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As 2023 comes to an end and the new year approaches, we look back at some of the key employment law changes in Ontario and discuss some potential new changes in the year ahead.

Key Employment Law Changes in 2023

Employment Standards Act

Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023, amended the Employment Standards Act2000 (“ESA”) to include changes in group terminations and reservist leave.

  • Most notably, remote employees now count towards the threshold for determining whether a reduction in force constitutes a “group termination” under the ESA. This means that employers must now consider remote employees whose employment they wish to terminate when determining whether the employer will terminate 50 or more employees at an employer’s “establishment” in the same 4-week period.
  • Regarding reservist leave, Bill 79 amended the term to include time off an employee requires to recover from a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency related to a military operation or training.
  • Additionally, Bill 79 reduced the waiting period for new hires to be eligible to take reservist leave from three to two months of consecutive employment.

Workplace Safety

The Workplace Safety Insurance Board of Ontario (“WSIB”) amended its Operational Policy Manual to include a new “Communicable Diseases” policy. This new policy provides guidelines for claims relating to communicable illnesses and defines a “communicable illness” as “an illness resulting from infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi”. 

  • The Communicable Diseases policy provides an employee with an initial entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits if the employee’s communicable illness “arose out of and in the course of employment, in that the employment made a significant contribution to contracting the communicable illness.”
  • The policy applies to employee claims made to WSIB with an accident date on or after December 1, 2023.

Key Employment law changes to look for in 2024

Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2023, if passed in 2024 as currently drafted, would amend the ESA to include several changes.

“Canadian Experience”

One such change relates to “Canadian experience”. More specifically, if passed, Bill 149 will prohibit employers from including any requirements related to “Canadian experience” in publicly advertised job postings or any associated application forms.

  • This amendment reflects an intention to remove barriers to employment imposed on internationally trained immigrants. It also reflects an effort to remain consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Commission’s position is that strict “Canadian experience” requirements are often discriminatory and in contravention of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Pay Transparency

  • Another possible change relates to pay transparency in 2024. Employers will likely be required to disclose the expected compensation for a position or the range of expected compensation for a position in public job postings.
  • This change may be of particular importance as employers could expect greater public scrutiny of their pay practices. As a result, employers should ensure their pay equity plans and practices comply with Ontario’s Pay Equity Act.

Artificial Intelligence

  • Yet another change in 2024 may come in the area of artificial intelligence. More specifically, employers could be required to disclose in public job postings whether they will use artificial intelligence to screen, assess or select applicants for the position.
  • This anticipated change means that employers who use artificial intelligence in their hiring processes should be aware of the potential for biases built into such tools. It is imperative that such tools do not produce prohibited discriminatory effects or breach any employee privacy and consent obligations. The latter is particularly important when collecting and storing personal information of job applicants.

Please contact Sultan Lawyers, employment lawyers, if you require any guidance or assistance in complying with Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, Human Rights Code, Pay Equity Act, or any other employment-related legislation in Canada. You can contact us online or by telephone at (416) 214-5111.