On December 6, 2018, yet another proposal to reform employment standards legislation in Ontario was announced by the Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade through An Act to restore Ontario's competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts (Bill 66).
Bill 66 includes a series of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("ESA") and Labour Relations Act, 1995 ("LRA"). Among the most significant changes for Ontario workplaces are the following:
Proposed ESA Changes
- Overtime Averaging. The current requirement under the ESA to obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards for any overtime averaging agreements will be repealed. Overtime averaging allows an employer to average their employees’ hours of work over two or more weeks, in order to determine entitlements to overtime pay. If Bill 66 receives Royal Assent, employers will instead be permitted to enter into overtime averaging agreements with their employees, as long as the averaging period does not exceed four (4) weeks; there will be no requirement to obtain Director approval.
- Excess Hours of Work. Employers will no longer be required to apply to the Director of Employment Standards for an approval allowing some or all of their employees to work more than 48 hours in a work week. Instead, so long as an agreement is entered into with the employee to work up to a specified number of hours in a week and that number is not exceeded, the employee's hours will be allowed to exceed the prescribed limit.
- Posting Requirements. If Bill 66 receives Royal Assent, authority currently afforded to the Minister of Labour to prepare, publish, update and request informational posters will be transferred to the Director of Employment Standards. Employers will no longer be required to post and keep the poster in the workplace (or maintain a translated version, if applicable.)
Proposed LRA Changes
- Non-Construction Employers. A new definition will be added to the LRA defining municipalities, local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies as "non-construction employers."
- Construction Industry Unions. Unions that represent employees of a non-construction employer in the construction industry will no longer represent those employees. On the day this provision comes into force, any collective agreement binding the non-construction employer and the union will cease to apply with respect to the non-construction employer in so far as the collective agreement applies to the construction industry.
Bill 66 passed its First Reading on December 6, 2018, but must still receive Royal Assent before becoming law. The changes noted above are a small subset of the overall reform proposed under Bill 66. Whereas the proposed ESA amendments would come into force with Royal Assent, the date for the coming into force of the LRA amendments listed above is not specified. Rather, the proposed LRA changes would come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
Pay Transparency Update
Bill 57, An Act to enact, amend and repeal various statutes (discussed previously on our blog) received Royal Assent on December 6, 2018. As a result, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 will no longer come into force on January 1, 2019 and will be postponed until a day named by a proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
Employers should be sure to check in on the status of Bill 66 frequently as its impact will affect both unionized and non-unionized workplaces. If the speedy timeline that Bill 47 followed is any indication, Bill 66 could become law before the New Year. We will continue to provide updates on the status of the Pay Transparency Act.