Employers need to review policies in wake of Ontario's labour law changes: experts

December 6, 2017
Article Source
The Lawyer's Daily

Labour and employment experts are saying Ontario employers have a "steep learning curve" ahead of them in order to prepare for the onslaught of new changes brought about by the provincial government's Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

The act, also known as Bill 148, received royal assent in late November after months of debate among not just politicians but also the business and labour sector. It raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019 but also makes a number of changes to provincial employment laws.

"Ontario workers deserve fair wages they can live on, as well as safe and fair working conditions," said Labour Minister Kevin Flynn. "The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario's prosperity."

In addition to the minimum wage increase, the Act mandates equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees, and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as employees at the agencies' client companies; expands personal emergency leave to 10 days per calendar year for all employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week; requires employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time; and adds measures to ensure that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors.

To enforce these changes, which are scheduled to start coming into force by April 1, the province is hiring up to 175 more employment standards officers and is launching a program to educate both employees and businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

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