Last week the Ford government tabled Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. This legislation would repeal many of the amendments made by the Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, most of which came into force in January 2018 but some of which are slated for January 2019.
Not surprisingly the changes proposed by Bill 47 are employer-friendly, in direct response to the employee-friendly changes brought in by Bill 148. The current versions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) is still in force and it is important that employers continue to comply with the Bill 148 version of the ESA until the new revisions are passed.
Under the proposed changes, the minimum wage would remain at $14 per hour until 2020, after which point increases would be tied to inflation. Under the current version of the ESA the minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019.
The various scheduling provisions of the ESA, set to come into force on January 1, 2019, would be repealed. These include:
- The right to request changes to schedule or work location after an employee has been employed for at least three months.
- Minimum of three hours’ pay for being on-call if the employee is available to work but is not called into work, or works less than three hours.
- The right to refuse requests or demands to work or to be on-call on a day that an employee is not scheduled to work or to be on-call with less than 96 hours’ notice.
- Three hours’ pay in the event of cancellation of a scheduled shift or an on-call shift within 48 hours before the shift was to begin.
Personal Emergency Leave
Personal emergency leave, currently consisting of 2 paid days and 8 unpaid days of protected leave annually for each worker, has been a tough pill to swallow for many employers. Bill 47 would replace personal emergency leave with the right to 3 sick days, 2 bereavements days and 3 family responsibility days annually. These days would be all unpaid. The provision prohibiting the employer from requiring a medical note would also be repealed.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
This is another provision that has caused many employers a fair bit of pain. The current version of the ESA requires that employees be paid equally for equal work, regardless of their employment status (part-time, casual, temporary). Bill 47 would repeal this provision and allow different classes of workers to be paid different wages.
The employment law landscape has been pretty wild for the past year and the introduction of Bill 47 suggests that things will continue to be so. Employers need to keep complying the with Bill 148 version of the law for now and should continue to ensure that policies and contracts are up to date.