Workplace Reform May be Coming to Ontario

Ontario could soon face the most significant reforms to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act the province has seen in more than 15 years.

The final report and recommendations of the Changing Workplaces Review will soon be released. The Review came as a result of a commitment made in the 2014 Throne Speech and direction in the Ministry of Labour’s mandate letter. It has examined almost all major elements of workplace law in the province including over time, sick pay, the unionization process, and responsibilities of employers towards contract employees.

The Minister of Labour has acknowledged that Ontario’s employment laws need to be updated to reflect changing workplace realities. Indeed, the Review was focused largely on the working conditions of the millennial workforce, including precarious part time and contract work.

Proposed Changes

The special advisors that are heading the report are considering the following proposed changes:

Pay and Time Off

  • Making sick days mandatory;
  • Increasing the minimum mandatory paid annual vacation from two weeks per year to three weeks per year;
  • Paying overtime pay after 40 hours rather than 44 hours;
  • Requiring employers to pay part-time employees the same amount as full-time employees for the same work.

Casual and Contract Workers

  • Requiring employers to post employees’ schedules in advance;
  • Compensating employees where there are last minute schedule changes;
  • Limiting the percentage of workers an employer obtains via a temp agency.

Employment Standards Act Exemptions

Currently, the Employment Standards Act specifically excludes certain professionals, including managers, janitors, and IT professionals from some protections under the Act. The Review is considering lifting these exemptions.

We will continue to follow developments on the results of the Changing Workplaces Review and what will happen once the final report is released. We will provide blog updates as more information becomes available. In the interim, if you are an employee and have any questions about your rights in the workplace, contact Peter A. McSherry Law Office in Guelph at 519-821-5465 or online to schedule a consultation.