A lot can happen in a year!
January 1st, 2018 found us under the Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 change regime with increased minimum wage, a strange statutory pay calculation, new paid emergency leave for all employees, and much, much more. As employers we hurried to make the necessary changes only to find that little by little things began to change back.
Due to much outrage and inequality over the new statutory pay calculation, this calculation was ultimately changed back to the old method just in time for the July 1, 2018 holiday. This was just the beginning and now on October 23rd, 2018, following their election promise; the Ontario Conservative government tabled Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018.
Bill 47 includes a major revision of Bill 148 and its prior changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995. This new bill may reverse many changes already in effect under Bill 148, as well as put a stop to further changes that were to have come into force on January 1, 2019.
To date, here is a brief summary of Bill 47 and the changes to be made to Bill 148 if it is passed. Essential changes to Bill 148 and the Employment Standards Act, 2000 include:
- Call-in minimum pay at three hours retained, but on-call payment requirements and the ability to refuse on-call assignments removed.
- A provision requiring the government to review minimum wage levels every five years is cancelled.
- Minimum wage frozen at $14.00 an hour until October 1, 2020, with any further increases to be subject to an annual inflation adjustment
Equal Pay for Equal Work
- Employment status pay equity repealed. No further requirement for Ontario businesses to equalize pay for part-time, seasonal and casual employees with their full-time equivalents;
- Bill 47 keeps the gender-based equal pay rules but removes the right of all workers, including women concerned about discriminatory pay, to request that their employer review their rate of pay.
Personal Emergency Leave
- Workers will no longer be entitled to two paid sick days and eight unpaid emergency leave days.
- Limited and new personal emergency leave – reduced from 10 to eight days in total and all unpaid (three for personal illness, three for family emergencies and two bereavement days)
- Not able to use the two bereavement days for kid’s emergencies if they don’t use them as bereavement in that year.
- All leave days are unpaid.
- Employers can again request a medical note from the employee to support their absence.
- Numerous scheduling rights will change. Workers with three months service will no longer have the right to request schedule or work location changes.
- Employers will no longer need to pay a minimum of three hours’ wages if an employee is on call but doesn’t get a shift.
- Workers will not have the right to refuse last-minute requests to work shifts they weren’t scheduled for.
- Workers will no longer receive three hours pay if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours before it was meant to start.
- Under Bill 47, workers who “regularly” work more than three hours but are given less than three hours when they show up will still get paid for at least three hours work.
- Contractors will again have the legal onus to prove a claim of an employment relationship.
- It will remain illegal to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor, a category of worker that has no protection under employment laws.
- Maximum penalties for “notices of contravention,” or a ticket for breaking basic employment laws, will decrease.
- Bill 47 also drastically reduces fines for violating the Labour Relations Act, which governs dealings between unions and employers.
No Changes To:
- Still must provide 3 weeks of vacation to workers with five years’ service at the same company.
- The new paid leave for domestic and sexual violence leave will not change.
- Return to the prior public holiday pay formula.
- Workers also won’t have to contact their employer before filing an employment standards claim.
- Leave of absences will remain unchanged.
Essential changes to labour provisions of Bill 148 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995:
- Repealed option of unions to obtain a list of employees from an employer that is potentially subject to a certification drive.
- Repealed changes to remedial certification by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in the event of an unfair labour practice occurring during the certification application/vote process permitting option of a re-vote (again).
- Repealed card-based union certification process in the building services, home care, community services and temp-help industries.
- Union successor rights are retained in the event of change of service providers for building cleaning services, food services and security services (but no other businesses to be added).
While the timeline for Bill 47 is still unknown, it is thought by many that this could progress as soon as mid-December with a clean effective date of January 1, 2019 which was the next date for the round of changes scheduled for Bill 148. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at 519-822-9933 ext. 280 or at email@example.com.