Right to Disconnect and a Rule Against Non-Compete Agreements
On November 30, 2021, the Ontario government announced the passing of new legislation, the Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“WWA”), which will have significant implications on employment law. The WWA will introduce a requirement for larger employers to implement “right to disconnect” policies, ban non-competition clauses for most types of employees, and more. While we are still waiting on the final version of the legislation, we have some insight into what to expect.
The WWA requires workplaces with 25 or more employees to have a written policy that details the employees’ right to disconnect from work after hours. The right to disconnect will apply to work-related communications, such as emails, calls, and the sending or receiving of messages after working hours. The WWA seeks to address the blurring of the work-life boundaries that many workers have experienced with the advancement of new technologies, communications, and remote work.
Ban on Non-Competes for Most Employees
The WWA will also ban non-competition agreements for most types of employees and dependent contractors. Specifically, the WWA will prohibit any agreement between an employer and employee or dependent contractor that prohibits engaging in any business, work occupation, profession, project or other activity which is in competition with the employer’s business after the employment relationship ends. These are commonly known as “non-competes” or “non-competition agreements”. If an employment contract or other contract contains this type of non-compete agreement, that clause will be void for most employees. The only exceptions would be for executive C-suite roles or a non-compete that may arise when an individual sells a business and agrees to remain working with the new owners.
Many individuals have employment agreements that contain non-compete agreements. All of these pre-existing clauses will be deemed as void upon the legislation.
In addition, there is a possibility that contracts with pre-existing non-competes which are not updated or revised by employers may lead to unenforceable contracts.
Employees should exercise caution with respect to revised employment agreements that include other changes beyond the removal of non-compete clauses.
Whitten & Lublin’s legal team can provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.