Back in June I discussed a bunch of pending changes to the labour laws here in Ontario. All of this is mandated by the provincial government and includes additions or amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act. Add to this a new one called the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act and you can see that the government means business (pun intended). By the way, this last act has received Royal Assent and is now law.
So what does all of this mean in the very near future and why discuss it now? Well, on January 1, 2018 many of these changes and additions will come into play. Probably of most interest to a lot of employees and employers is the pending rise in the minimum wage from $11.60 per hour to $14.00 per hour. This represents a major jump; good for employees but possibly a major challenge for businesses. That said, it is only the latest of the increases. Another one follows on January 1, 2019 when it jumps to $15.00 per hour. There will still be different rates for students, liquor servers, hunting & fishing guides, and home workers (employees paid by an employer to work from home).
Also coming into play is legislation to cover equal pay for equal work regardless of whether an employee is part-time or full-time, temporary or seasonal. In other words, if they are doing a particular job, the pay rate must be consistent applied across the board. This would also include employees of a Temporary Help Agency. The few exceptions to this include where systems are in place for seniority or merit. This provision will actually come into being on April 1, 2018.
Sticking with January 1, legislation covering overtime pay will take effect. This would require an employee who covers multiple positions to be paid at the rate for the position they are working while on overtime. Mandatory entitlement to three weeks paid vacation after five years of employment with the same employer will also come into play for all employers, not just the large ones. Moving on to public holiday pay, employees will be entitled to their average regular daily wage rather than a formula-driven amount.
The whole issue of leave, both paid and unpaid, also comes into force on January 1. All employees will be entitled to 10 personal emergency leave days per year including two of them as paid. Employers will be forbidden from requesting a sick note during one of these leaves. Domestic violence will now be a valid reason. 104 weeks of unpaid leave will be allowed for the death of a child for any reason or for crime-related child disappearance. Family medical leave will increase to up to 27 weeks in a 52-week period.
As of January 1, 2018 an Employment Standards Officer can order a company to pay an employee if moneys are owing. The same applies to employees of a Temporary Help Agency.
The last thing I’ll cover in this blog is the requirement for employees to contact their employer before filing a claim under the Employment Standards Act. On January 1, it will no longer be mandatory. An Employment Standards Officer must be assigned regardless.
The whole area of employment standards and labour relations is complex and should be of great concern to everyone involved. I strongly recommend that people consult the Ontario Government website for further clarification where necessary. For complicated issues, a labour relations lawyer might be a worthy investment. Changes are happening and this makes for interesting times. This blog has only touched some of it. As of this writing, it is unclear if the legislation for everything I have mentioned has passed but I do expect it will.
On a lighter note, as we are in December with the holiday season and the New Year fast approaching, all of us here at Fiscal Performance Inc. would like to wish all of you the very best in your business and personal lives. May the year behind you have met all your expectations and may the New Year ahead hold the promise of new, fresh and exciting challenges. Enjoy the holidays and bask in the warmth and spirit of the season.
All the very best,