The Ontario government has announced its intention to introduce several widespread reforms to labour and employment laws in the province. The reforms, which will be set out in The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, are meant to strengthen legal protections for workers in Ontario.
New Minimum Wage:
The proposed reforms would see minimum wage increase to $14.00 by January 1, 2018, and increase again to $15.00 by January 1, 2018. The special minimum wages for liquor servers, students under age 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers will increase by the same percentage as minimum wage.
Penalties for Incorrect “Independent Contractor” Classifications:
The new legislation attempts to discourage employers from misclassifying employees as independent contractors by setting out penalties such as prosecution and monetary penalties. The proposed scheme would require employers to prove that an individuals is not an employee, if that individual disputes their status.
Expanded Leaves of Absences
Under the proposed reforms, employees would be entitled to a new type of 104-week unpaid Leave for Death of a Child. Employees would remain entitled to a separate 104-week unpaid leave for Crime-Related Child Disappearance. Family Medical Leave would be increased to 27 weeks in a 52-week period. Employers would be prohibited from requesting a sick note from an employee taking a Personal Emergency Leave. Finally, all employees would be entitled to 10 Personal Emergency Days per year, and two of those Emergency Days must be provided with pay.
Proposed Protections for Employees’ Schedules:
- Employees would have the right to request schedule or location changes after having been employed for three months with the same employer without fear of reprisal.
- Employees can refuse to accept shifts without reprisal if their employer asks them to work with less than four days’ notice.
- If a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start, employees must be paid at least three hours at their regular rate of pay.
- Employees who regularly work more than three hours per day, but upon reporting to work are given less than three hours, must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay.
- When employees are “on-call” and not called in to work, they must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay for each 24 hour period that they are on-call.
Author: Simone Ostrowski, Whitten & Lublin