What Are The New Ontario Labour Laws That Business Owners Should Be Aware Of?

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In 2017, Ontario’s labor laws were changed to business owners for ten years, known as Bill 148. Most of the legislation in the bill was executed on January 1, 2018. While others came into force at different times during the year. If you own a business, this bill will affect you a lot. Therefore, the owner of any business must catch new changes, to ensure that they are on the right side of the law.

In this blog, we will look at the most important features of the new act, which are suitable for business people.

Some of the changes in Ontario labor laws are noted down below:

Growth 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: Labor laws in Ontario now prohibit all seasonal, contract, temporary and part-time workers from receiving the same amount as full-time employees if they perform substantially similar work. If the workers think they are being underpaid. They can request a pay review. If there is a difference, the employer has to balance the employee’s pay or provide a written letter explaining the difference. This law also ensures the employer cannot cut the pay of full-time employees to maintain stability.

Changes to employee vacation: Under the new law, if an employee has worked with your organization for more than five years, they are paid for three weeks. And employees who have worked for your business for less than five years are still allowed a 2-week vacation period. 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.

New Scheduling Rules

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 impose any penalty against any employee doing so.

2. An employee has the right to say whether he is assigned to a shift or not, and the notice is less than 96 hours from the start of the job.

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.

3 Hours of Pay Minimum Rule

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. 

Employee Misclassification:

The Act brings adjustments to the way employee classification issues are managed:

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 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 limit for the currently established PEL at 50 employees will be removed under the law. Instead, all employees will be allowed 10 days of PEL every year, with two days off.
  • For employees who are suffering from domestic or sexual violence or under the threat of such violence. The reasons for taking PEL will be expanded.
  • The employers would be forbidden from requesting a sick note from employees taking PEL.

Union Rules have been Reversed

The Progressive Conservative government has proposed further changes to union rules under the Labor Relations Act. The requirement for union accreditation by card has been removed with the new bill. Therefore, the secret ballot vote will be done under Bill 47.

Another union rule change has been that employers are not compelled to give unions access to the employee list. Where 20% of the support proves. However, one rule that will not change is that 40% of support is required from employees.

Compassionate Leave

The Act also brought changes to the categories of compassionate leave accessible to employees in Ontario:

  • A new category of leave has been created which is relevant in the case of the death of an employee’s child or the disappearance of a child as a result of a crime.
  • In both cases, the employee will be allowed up to 104 weeks of leave.
  • Similarly, the family medical leave allowance of employees will increase – from 8 weeks to 52 weeks to 27 weeks within 26 weeks.

Electronic Agreements

The proposed legislation would change the status of electronic agreements between employers and employees. Such agreements may relate to matters such as working hours, or shift schedules will be valid in electronic form.

On October 1, 2020, Ontario’s minimum wage will be changed from $ 14.00 per hour to consider annual inflation. Employers should review employment contracts to make sure they accept the changes. In addition, employees must remain informed of their rights and the effective date of the change.

Despite the changes in 2020, it has been suggested that employers and employees should be aware of rights and responsibilities once the new law comes into force. It is important to keep current labor laws in mind to promote better working conditions, adhere to equity, and build consensus for change.

If you want to learn more about how these new labor law changes will affect your business, feel free to contact us or visit our website.

Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa is the founder of Filing Taxes. Salman provides valuable tax planning, accounting, and income tax preparation services in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.

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