This time last year, organizations were scrambling to incorporate The Liberal government’s Bill 148 into their operations. On November 21st, 2018 the new Conservative government Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open For Business Act 2018 – received royal assent. My goal is to provide some clarity to the legislation as it stands today.

It is important to note that if you update your policies and procedures to implement the ESA changes introduced by Bill 148, you may not be able to unilaterally reverse these changes without consequence. For example, if an employer increased wages to meet the increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour, you cannot now reverse that decision. You can, however, red-circle the employee. Best practice in policy development around ESA, 2000 legislation is to refer employees to the legislation rather than to incorporate the legislation into your policies. As a result, you will never be offside with legislation.

The amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that remain from Bill 148 Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 are:

  • Minimum wage – remains at $14 an hour. Inflationary adjustments will begin October 1, 2020.
    Vacation with pay – Vacation time increases from 2 weeks to 3 weeks after 5 years of service. Vacation pay increase from 4% to 6% of wages after 5 years of service.
  • Scheduling Rules – Only one scheduling rule remains from Bill 148. All others were repealed. Effective January 1, 2019 employees who regularly work more than three hours a day and who are required to present themselves for work, but who work less than three hours, despite being available to work longer, are entitled to be paid three hours’ wage.
  • Personal emergency Leave – Instead of 10 emergency personal days proposed in Bill 148 there will be three new unpaid leaves.
    – Three days of job-protected sick leave for personal illness, injury or medical emergency
    – Two days of job-protected bereavement leave for the death of a prescribed family member
    – Three days of job-protected family responsibility leave for illness, injury, medical emergency or other urgent matter relating to a prescribed family member.
  • Extended Parental Leave – Increases to 61 weeks for employees who take pregnancy leave. Increases to 63 weeks for parents who have not taken pregnancy leave.
  • Expanded Critical Illness Leave – Up to 17 weeks to provide care and support to a critically ill adult family member. This is in addition to the 37 weeks critically ill child car leave.
  • Domestic Violence Leave – Employee will be entitled to a leave of absence where the employee or the employee’s child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence. The length of the leave can be up to 10 days (if taken as days) plus 15 weeks if taken in full weeks. The first 5 days of entitlement are paid.
  • Extended Family Medical Leave – This has increased from 8 to 28 weeks in every 52 week period to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

Other Important Information
Employers are no longer prohibited from asking for a medical note to support an employee’s request time off for medical purposes.
Equal Pay For Equal Work – Only applies to as it relates to paying men and women differently for equivalent work (pay equity).
Contractor vs Employees – The onus is back on the “employee”. Any individual who feels they are an employee and not a contractor is required to prove that they are an employee.

The Ontario government has also decided to delay two controversial amendments.
The Pay Transparency Act has been delayed until further public consultation is complete. The original intent was to promote gender equality and equal compensation between men and women through increased transparency around compensation. This would:

  • Require publicly advertised job postings to include a salary range;
  • Prohibit employers from asking candidates about their past compensation;
    Prohibit reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation; and
  • Establish a reporting framework that will require employers with 100 or more employees to track, report and post-compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics

This act also delays the planned repeal to the provision excluding from the scope of the ESA persons performing work in a simulated job or working environment if the primary purpose is the individual’s rehabilitation (Sheltered Workshops).
I hope this clarifies things for you.

Should you have any question please feel free to contact me directly, or The Osborne Group at info@osborne-group.com.