Bill 47 – Changes to the Employment Standards Act
Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, received Royal Assent on November 21, 2018. Bill 47 includes changes to the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). This article discusses some of the changes to the ESA, which took effect on January 1, 2019.
Bill 148 changes that were scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2019 have been repealed. The standard minimum wage remains at $14.00 per hour until 2020. Minimum wage will be subject to annual inflation adjustments beginning on October 1, 2020.
The minimum on-call pay and cancellation pay provisions included in Bill 148 have been repealed. Employers may continue to use employees on an on-call basis at no cost, unless the employee attends at work. Employers are not required to provide 3 hours of pay to employees when a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its commencement.
There are significant new changes to personal emergency leave entitlements under the ESA. The previous entitlement was 10 personal leave days (2 of which were paid). Current entitlements no longer include 2 paid days. Employees are now entitled to 3 unpaid days for personal illness, injury or medical emergency, 3 unpaid days to attend to family responsibilities, and 2 unpaid bereavement days when certain family members pass away. Employers may now request a medical note to substantiate employee time from work for medical reasons, where that request is reasonable in the circumstances.
Employers will not be required to pay part-time, casual, or temporary assignment employees the same rate of pay as full-time staff performing the same work. The prohibition on misclassifying an employee as a contractor remains, however the reverse onus has been repealed. Previously, the burden was on the employer to establish that a complainant is not an employee. The burden is now on the complainant to establish they are an employee.
Other Bill 148 changes to the ESA remain in place, including 3 weeks’ minimum vacation time (6% of wages) for employees with 5 years or more service. Changes to various extended Leaves of Absence provisions also remain, including those to pregnancy and parental leave, critical illness leave, family medical leave, child death leave, domestic or sexual violence leave, and crime-related child disappearance leave.
Employers should take note that if they are making significant changes to an employee’s entitlements, they may be at risk of a constructive dismissal claim. Employers should have written employment agreements that reserve the employer’s right to change an employee’s entitlements to correspond with the minimum entitlements set out under the ESA.
Please contact Waterous Holden Amey Hitchon LLP if you have questions about how these most recent changes apply to your business, or for any other employment related questions.
Communications on this website are intended for information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. The lawyers of Waterous Holden Amey Hitchon LLP would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations.