Written by; Gwyneth James MBA CPA, CGA
Ontario Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act has received its second reading at Queen’s Park and appears set to be enacted on January 1, 2018. Bill 148 will amend portions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
With all the attention on the increase to minimum wage, there are several other changes that have not hit the radar of many small businesses, but will substantially change the landscape of employment and labour law in Ontario:
- Scheduling: employees have the right to request schedule and location changes after 3 months of employment without repercussions; and if they are scheduled to work at least 3 hours, they must be paid for 3 hours minimum. There are other changes that effected companies should be familiar with.
- Vacation Pay: after 5 years of service, employees will earn vacation pay at 6% (roughly equal to 3 weeks of vacation).
- Paid Emergency Leave: all employers must now provide 2 days of paid personal emergency leave per year and 8 unpaid days.
- Family Medical Leave: employees may take up to 27 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to stay home with a terminally ill family member.
- Public Holiday Pay (“stat pay”): the calculation for stat pay will now be based off of the pay period immediately preceding the holiday instead of 20 days.
- Pregnancy and Parental Leave: there are increases to the weeks of parental leave allowed and for employees who suffer a miscarriage or still-birth.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work: part-time and temporary employees must be paid the same wages as full-time employees performing equivalent work with some exceptions.
- Union Certification: several changes to this process that effected companies should be familiar with.
- Independent Contractors: there are new rules and regulations to prevent employers from treating employees as self-employed in order to avoid the ESA. Employers will be subject to penalties unless they can prove that the individual is truly an independent contractor.
It is extremely important that business owners make time to get familiar with all these changes and reflect them in their employment practices in the new year.