In February 2015, the Government of Ontario began an assessment of the employees in the modern workplace with a view to further enhancing employee protection. The assessment ultimately resulted in a proposed amendment to the Employment Standards Act 2000 (ESA): Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. As these amendments will ultimately result in greater rights or benefits to employees, they will also result in corresponding additional costs to employers.

Changing Workplaces Review: Government to review exemptions under the Employment Standards Act

As we reported in our October and July 2017 Alerts, the changes to the ESA are currently the subject of debate in the legislature. While the Bill has passed second reading, the Bill will still need to go through a third reading and royal assent before becoming law and we do not have a timeline for that yet.

In the meantime, the government has announced its intention to review exemptions under the ESA that apply to certain occupations. These exemptions apply to employment standards relating to, among other things, wages, overtime, hours of work and public holidays.

The first phase of the review involves obtaining input from the public on the following occupations that are currently exempt from certain employment standards:

  • Architects
  • Domestic Workers1
  • Homemakers
  • IT Professionals
  • Managerial and Supervisory Employees
  • Pharmacists
  • Residential Building Superintendents, Janitors and Caretakers
  • Residential Care Workers

Participating in the review process

As part of its review of the exemptions that apply to pharmacists and architects, the Ministry of Labour (“the Ministry”) is consulting directly with the regulatory bodies for these professions. These regulatory bodies will be holding their own consultations with their members and will be reporting back to the Ministry. You can learn more about this process by following the links below:

The Ministry has prepared ESA Exemption Toolkits to facilitate this phase of the consultation process for the following occupational groups: Residential Building Superintendents, Janitors and Caretakers; IT Professionals; Managers and Supervisors; and Domestic Workers, Homemakers and Residential Care Workers. You can learn more about how to take part in this part of the consultation process by visiting the following links:

Changing Workplaces Review: Government to review exemptions under the Employment Standards Act

Those interested in participating in Phase 1 of the review can request the appropriate ESA Exemption Toolkit by emailing exemptions.review@ontario.ca.

The deadline for providing input is December 1, 2017.

More information about the review process can be found online at the Ministry of Labour’s website: https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/ english/about/workplace/web_notice.php. 

Changes to Employment Insurance benefits for maternity/ parental/ adoptive leaves for federally regulated employers

On November 9, 2017 the Government of Canada announced changes to Employment Insurance benefits for parental/adoptive leave that will take effect December 3, 2017 (as previously announced in the 2017 Federal Budget statement). Eligible parents in Canada, outside Quebec, can choose between the Standard Parental Benefit or the Extended Parental Benefit. The Standard Parental Benefit provides 35 weeks for a period of up to 12 months at a rate of 55% of an eligible parent’s average weekly earnings, to a maximum of $543 per week. With the Extended Parental Benefit, parents receive up to 61 weeks of benefits over 18 months at 33% of average weekly earnings, to a maximum of $326 per week.

Birth mothers who work for federally regulated workplaces will now be eligible to receive benefits 12 weeks prior to their due date, compared to the existing 9 weeks before birth. 

Outside of federally regulated workplaces, where the changes will take effect December 3, the provinces and territories must make legislative and policy changes to define the conditions of jobprotected leave that will allow the extended leave to become an option for new parents. Ontario has announced its intention to do so as part of the amendments to its Employment Standards Act.