In 2017, Ontario labor laws were changed for business owners for over ten years, known as Bill 148. There are most of the laws in the bill were executed on January 1st, 2018. While others came into effect at different times during the year, all the way into 2019. If you are a business owner, this bill will tremendously affect you. Therefore, any business owner needs to get hold of the new changes to make sure that they are on the right side of the law. In this blog, we will look at the most vital features of the new act, which are appropriate to business people.
Increase of Minimum Wage: On 1st January 2018, the minimum wage increased by 20%, which jumped from $11.60 to $14.00. As a business owner, you have to pay more to your lowest-earning employees. It is essential to be prepared for these changes to avoid cash problems for your business. Moreover, being a business owner, you should always be ready as the minimum wage is expected to rise again in 2019.
Equal Pay for Equal Work: Ontario’s labor laws now grant all seasonal, contract, temporary, and part-time workers the same pay for the same work, as full-time workers if they perform substantially similar work. If workers think they are underpaid, they can ask for a salary review. If there is a difference, the employer must match the employee’s pay or provide a written letter explaining the difference. This law also ensures that the employer cannot reduce the wages of full-time employees in order to maintain stability.
Changes to Employee Vacation: According to the new legislation, if an employee has worked with your organization for more than five years. He/she is allowed a paid vacation for three weeks. And for employees who have worked for your business for less than five years, a 2-week vacation period is allowed. Besides, there is a new way to calculate holiday pay. The total amount paid divided by the total number of days worked. This average pay is what business owners will use to determine their employees’ holiday pay.
There are new scheduling rules that come with Bill 148, which all employers must know. They are as follows:
1. Employees have the right to request changes to their locations or schedules after three months of employment. The employer cannot initiate any penalty against any employee who does this.
2. An employee has the right to say no if he/ she is assigned for a shift, and the notice is less than 96 hours from the job’s beginning.
3. Now it has become the duty of employers to keep records up-to-date that show the times and dates of employees’ work schedules.
An employee who shows up for work and works for three or more hours per day must still get pay for 3 hours of work. It also applies if a shift is canceled with 48 hours’ notice, and the employer does not inform the employee.
Under the new law, the employers who misrepresent employees as independent contractors would be subject to a range of penalties- from fines to prosecution and even public disclosure measures.
There are cases where employers treat employees as self-employed and are not allowed to protect their employment standards.
Personal Emergency Leave
The Act brought several changes to the way Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) is applied by Ontario businesses:
The threshold for PEL presently set at 50 employees, would be removed under the introduced law. Instead, all employees would be allowed 10 days PEL every year, with two days paid leave.
For employees who are suffering from domestic or sexual violence or are under the threat of such violence- the qualifying reasons for taking PEL would be expanded.
The employers would be forbidden from requesting a sick note from employees taking PEL.
The Progressive Conservative government has proposed to make new changes to the Union rules under the Labour Relations Act. The card-based union certification requirement has been withdrawn with the new bill. Therefore, secret ballot voting will return under Bill 47.
Another union rule change is the employers are not compelled to give unions access to employee lists, where 20% of support is proved. However, one rule that will not change is that 40% of support is needed from employees.
The Act also brought changes to the categories of compassionate leave accessible to employees in Ontario:
A new category of leave is created that is relevant in the case of the death of an employee’s child or the child’s disappearance as the result of a crime.
In both cases, the employee would be allowed up to 104 weeks of leave.
Similarly, the employees’ Family Medical Leave allowances would rise – from 8 weeks within 26 weeks to 27 weeks in 52 weeks.
The law which has been proposed would change the condition of electronic agreements between employers and employees. These types of agreements may concern issues like longer work hours, or shift scheduling that would be valid in electronic format.
On October 1, 2020, Ontario’s minimum wage will be changed from $14.00 per hour to $14.25 to consider annual inflation. Employers should review employment contracts to ensure that they agree with the changes. Also, the employees must stay informed about their rights and when the change will take effect.
Despite the changes that are expected to occur in 2020. It is suggested both employers and employees should be aware of the rights and responsibilities following the new laws coming into effect. It is important to stay updated with employment law news. To promote better working conditions, wage fairness and consent as changes take effect.
If you want to learn more about how these new labor law changes will affect your business, feel free to contact us at +1 416-479-8532 or visit our website.