As we are at the beginning of 2020, now is an appropriate time to reflect on how employment law in Ontario has evolved over the past decade. While there has been a long list of changes, the following are three examples of legislative changes that we chose to highlight which we believe had a significant impact on employment law over the past decade.
Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, or Bill 148
In November 2017, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 (“the Act”) was passed in Ontario. This piece of legislation brought about significant changes to both the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, including an increase to the minimum wage, the introduction of a new parental leave program and changes to personal emergency leaves.
The Act also amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to, for example, prohibit employers in most industries from implementing a policy requiring employees to wear high heels.
Making Ontario Open for Business Act, or Bill 47
In 2018, the new Government of Ontario announced they would introduce a new bill to repeal many of the changes introduced by the previous Liberal government to the Employment Standards Act. The aim of the reversals and modifications was to ensure that Ontario was more competitive in terms of the flexibility of its labour market. Fulfilling this promise, in October 2018, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act (“new Act”) or Bill 47 was introduced, and this new Act became law in November 2018.
The new Act introduced many changes. For example, it effectively froze minimum wage until October 1, 2020, cancelling the planned increase to the minimum wage that was set to take effect on January 1, 2019. The Ford Government noted that any increases to the minimum wage in the future will be tied to inflation.
The new Act also amended Bill 148 to reduce employee entitlement to sick days. Under the previous Liberal government, employees in Ontario were entitled to two paid sick days, however, the Ford Government abolished this requirement and made it so that employers are no longer required to offer paid time off to employees who are sick. It should be kept in mind, however, that employees retain a right to 3 unpaid leave days per year, which can be used in the case of illness. If an employer were to terminate an employee due to a legitimate sick leave, a court could find for the employee in a wrongful dismissal action, and it may also be a violation of the employee’s human rights.
Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, or Bill 66
In 2019, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (“ROC Act”) received Royal Assent. The ROC Act amended the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Pension Benefits Act.
Among the changes introduced by the ROC Act is a change to legislation that effectively makes it easier for employers to have employees work longer hours (over 48 hours per week) without approval from the director of employment standards, as previously required. Furthermore, the ROC Act made it clear that employers were no longer required to post Employment Standards posters setting out employee rights in a conspicuous place in the workplace Instead, employers are required to provide employees with this poster upon being hired.
If you have any questions about the above-noted changes and how you can ensure that your workplace remains in compliance with all applicable laws, please contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, at 416-214-5111 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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