A number of changes in terms of labour reform have been announced by the Liberal government here in our province of Ontario. Your opinion on each of the changes will determine whether you see them as good or bad. Regardless, they’re coming so hang on to your hats.
The one that will likely be of most interest to small and medium size businesses will be regarding changes to minimum wage. For a lot of businesses, including a good number of our own clients, payroll is a huge consideration and often the largest expense to be dealt with. Any changes to the minimum wage can have dramatic and possibly devastating effects on many of them. On the other hand, low wage earners can only benefit by a bump in their pay and especially in their take-home pay.
So what’s about to happen? Currently the general minimum wage stands at $11.40 per hour. This will jump to $11.60 per hour on October 1 of this year. It will further increase to $14.00 per hour on January 1 of 2018 and then to $15.00 per hour on January 1 of 2019. Please note that these are general minimum wages and that there are different rates for students, liquor servers, hunting & fishing guides and home-based workers. It’s never that simple.
On the employment standards front, there will be legislation in place regarding equal pay for equal work, regardless of whether staff is full-time, casual, part-time, seasonal or temporary. No longer will employers be able to keep wages down by hiring part-time staff. It will also allow staff to request a review of their wages if there is any doubt. The employer will be obligated to respond either in writing or with a wage increase without repercussions to the employee. As usual, there are exceptions and in this case they involve seniority systems, merit-based systems, and systems involving quantity or quality of production. This one is slated to begin on April 1 of 2018 should the legislation pass. A similar clause would make sure that equal pay applies to staff provided by a temp agency.
Work scheduling and minimum pay to employees are also earmarked for rule changes. In summary:
- After employment for 3 months, an employee can request schedule or location changes without fear of reprisal
- An employee regularly working more than 3 hours in a day must be paid for at least 3 hours should they report to work and find out that they will work less than 3 hours.
- Employees should be given 4 days notice of shifts or they will be able to refuse without repercussion
- Employees must be paid at least three hours at their regular pay rate if a shift is cancelled within 48 hour of starting
- On-call employees must be paid for at least 3 hours even if they are not called in to work. This would apply to each 24 hour “on-call shift”
- The usual exception: collective agreements will OFTEN override these new rules
The last proposed change I will discuss is the right of employees to 10 personal days per year with 2 of them being paid. In government parlance it is “paid emergency leave”. Up until now, it only applied to workplaces with 50 or more employees. If the legislation passes, this threshold will no longer apply.
All of the above is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are more changes being proposed in a sweeping reform of workplace legislation. This will hopefully give you an idea of where things are heading and how it could affect all of us. What’s more, additional enforcement staff will be hired by the Ministry of Labour to ensure compliance.
As always, I stand ready to help keep you up to date on things that would affect the financial health of your business. You are ever welcome to connect to discuss this and all matters relating to your bookkeeping and finances.
Have a truly amazing summer.