Amendments to Ontario Employment Standards Legislation

New Legislation Enacted

Bill 148 amends the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, by providing a $14 per hour general minimum wage (effective on January 1, 2018) and $15 (as of January 1, 2019); and new scheduling rules (starting January 1, 2019), including guaranteed hours of pay for cancelled shifts and the right to refuse work if not given notice of scheduled shift. The Bill also provides new types of leave: personal emergency leave for all employees; domestic/sexual violence leave; and critical illness of a family member leave. It also extends the time for parental leave and family medical leave. The Bill also provides new record keeping requirements and various mandates relative to “equal pay for equal work,” regardless of employment status and for temporary help agency employees.

Amendments to Ontario Labour Standards

New Legislation Enacted

Effective January 1, 2018, Bill 148 amends the LRA in various ways. It provides an increase in fines for violations of the OLRA and a card based certification in home care, community services, building services, and temporary help agency industries. Where union achieves at least 55% support, the OLRB may certify without a vote. A vote will still be ordered if support is at least 40% but less than 55%. Also, remedial certification becomes the default remedy where an employer has contravened the LRA and, as a result, a representation vote did not reflect true wishes of employees in the bargaining unit. The Bill also provides that first collective agreement mediation may be requested where parties cannot effect first collective agreement. In addition, employees will not be permitted to strike for 45 days from the date Minister appoints a mediator nor will OLRB deal with decertification or displacement applications in the same period. Unions with 20% support can apply to be granted access to an employee list and certain contact information.

Amendments to Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

New Legislation Enacted

Effective November 27, 2017, employers will no longer be permitted to require a worker to wear footwear with an elevated heel, unless the footwear is required for the worker to perform work safely. Bill 148 incorporates exceptions for the entertainment and advertising industry from this prohibition.

Alberta Worker’s Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act

New Legislation Enacted

Bill 30 repeals the previous Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act and replaces it with a new Act. It also makes changes to the Worker’s Compensation Act. Bill 30 received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017, enacting a myriad of changes. Bill 30 requires employers to have a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee at workplaces with 20 or more employees or a Workplace Health and Safety Representative at workplaces with between 5 and 19 workers. It also enshrines the three basic rights of workers: right to refuse unsafe work; right to know; and right to participate. The Bill extends protections from workplace violence and harassment, including a specific definition of harassment, and establishes new reporting requirements for “near misses.” There will be a review of OHS laws every five years and new powers for adjudicators. The majority of OHSA changes come into effect June 1, 2018.

ONCA Limits Bonus Entitlements on Termination

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

The Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) recently examined whether an employee was entitled to a bonus based on an “active employment” clause in the employee’s contract. The employee had resigned his employment before the payout date of several bonuses for a prior year and the year of resignation. The employer did not pay out the bonuses and the employee sued for payment. Dismissing the employee’s suit, the ESA motion judge found that the policy clearly required active employment on the payout date; the employee was aware of the requirement and knew (or ought to have known) that he would forfeit the bonus on resignation; the employee’s entitlement was extinguished by resignation. On appeal, ONCA affirmed ESA, finding that ESA does not set out how to determine entitlement to non-recurring wages. The contract required active employment, a limitation which the employer permissibly imposed. Therefore, the employee was not entitled to the bonus payouts.