Proposed Changes to Ontario’s Employment Laws – 2017 [video]

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The Ontario government has proposed changes to the province’s employment laws which include an increase in the minimum wage, more paid vacation, personal emergency days etc. This lecture explains some of the important changes that are in the pipeline and their impact on employees’ rights in the workplace.

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.

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Welcome everyone, this is Amer Mushtaq from You Counsel today will talk about some of the proposed changes to Ontario’s employment laws that may come into effect in a few months time. This is generally in government’s response to the changing nature of the workplaces, the increase in the gig employment, the freelance, the contract employment, and how that impacts the rights of an employee in a workplace. So, let’s get into what are some of those proposed changes, so, you can get a sense of what’s coming down the line in the near future.

We begin with our disclaimer that this course is not legal advice, so, if you have any specific questions you must contact a lawyer or paralegal.

This is a proposed legislation it’s called the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act – 2017. Please keep in mind, it’s still proposed. It’s going through the readings in the Parliament it is not enacted yet, but once this legislation comes into full force, it will include amendments to the Employment Standards Act 2000, this is a legislation that we have often talked about in our various lectures and this legislation provides various rights and protections to employees in a workplace, in a non-unionized environment and so the Fair Work Places Better Jobs Act 2017 brings amendments to the Employment Standards Act 2000. And so what are some of the most common, most important amendments changes that will come into effect?

Number one, the minimum wage will be increased, and it will be increased to $15 an hour by January 1, 2019, this will be done in a gradual way, so, the wage becomes $11.40 and then that amount runs up to September 30, 2017 from October 1st, it goes up to $11.60 and that runs up to the end of this year and then it jumps to $14 an hour on January 1, 2018 and it remains $14 an hour for the entire 2018 and then as of January 1, 2019 the minimum wage will go to $15 an hour.

As always, there are some exceptions not everyone is entitled to minimum wage. Some of the exceptions are minimum wages for students may be different for liquor servers it’s different, from home workers, the minimum wage may be different. So, if you may fall under one of those exceptions then a different minimum wage will apply to your employment.

Equal pay for equal work, this is quite a significant change in the legislation. And essentially what it means is whether you’re a full time employee, part time employee, temporary, casual, or seasonal worker, if you’re doing the same job, you’re getting paid the same wages. And it’s important because, as we know, that the nature of work place is changing significantly a lot of temporary job, casual jobs are coming in, and replacing the full time positions that used to exist.

Again, there are some exceptions to equal pay for equal work. If the pay is being which is they’re being paid on the basis of seniority, then that may be an exception. If there is a specific merit system for the wages then that would apply. If you are in a work place that you get paid based upon the quantity of the product that you produce or the quality of production then that may apply and then allow different wages for different workers doing the same job.

There’s no exception on the bases of sex and employment status and if you have any idea about the legislative makeup of Ontario, Canada there wasn’t a previously existing legislation, which would require the employer to pay the same wages to male and female employees. So, there’s no exception remaining on the basis of sex and so, if a man or a woman does the same job, they will be entitled to the same wages and again, the employment status whether you’re a full time or part time employee, is irrelevant as long as you’re doing the same work, you will get the same wages. So, it’s an important change to the legislation.

Now, Temporary Help Agencies. A lot of employment now is coming through Temporary Help agencies and so, if you are someone who is working through a Temporary Help Agency, then it’s good for you to know that you will still get equal pay for equal work. So, if you are an assignment worker coming to that employer through a Temporary Help Agency, you will get paid the same wages as a permanent employee of that company.

Another important aspect of the change with respect to assignment workers, through temporary help agencies is that if you are working on a contract that is supposed to last three months or more and if there is an early terminations, you will be entitled to certain terminations notice in this situation, in this specific case, it will be about a one week of notice, and then you get the termination notice and you don’t justsort of- are kicked out of got a contract.

Another change is with respect to scheduling, if you are an employee who has worked for about three months and you work, you know, you do a shift work or you want to change your schedule, either your shift or you want to change the location of your work within that company after three months, you can request that without the fear of reprisals. So, an example could be that if you were hired in a factory to work and the only way you could find that job was to work for the night shift and once you start working after three months, you require your shift to be changed to the day time, if previously, if you ask that kind of change a lot of employees would fear that the employer will terminate that person simply because of asking for the change in their shift. So, this law basically now allows you to request it under your specific circumstances, does not guarantee that your shift will change, that will depend upon the employer circumstances availability of shift or work in the specific location that you want, but at least you can ask or you can request that change without being worried that the employer will terminate your employment.

Another important aspect that of the scheduling is that if you are asked to come to your shift which is longer than three hours but once you arrive you show up at work the employer tells you that your services are not required for more than three hours let say only for an hour and sends you back home, this legislation, this rule now requires the employer to pay you for three hours of work. And one of the examples that I can tell from my experience, was back in the days when I used to work for a call center, often times more employees/customer service representatives were called in to work, and if the call volume was low then our supervisor would start picking certain employees and send them home. So, in those circumstances, if you are required to work for less than three hours even though your original shift was longer than that then you will get paid with three hours.

If your shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start, you will still get paid for three hours, so, cancellation in less than 48 hours will trigger payment of three hours. Also, if you are an on call employee and you are not called in to work, so, you are on call they were available, but you are not required to come in to work in this situation you will still get three hours of pay.

Employee misclassification – this is an important topic and often times an employee may be labeled as an independent contractor we have several lectures with respect to independent contractor issues by all means check those out. But what happens basically is that if an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor then that takes away certain protections that the employee may have under the Employment Standards Act, so, that’s why classification of a person as an employee is important if the person needs to maintain the protections of the E.S.A. So, if an employer misclassifies an employee, the burden is now on the employer to prove that the classification is correct, so, the circumstances of that classification, the criteria is met and it’s on the employer to now prove that. If the employer misclassifies then there’s a potential prosecution of that employer, there is potential public disclosure, and then monetary penalties that may be imposed on that employer. So, essentially it’s important for the employer and the employee to make sure that they’re classified properly and if someone should be considered an employee then that’s how they should be classified and they should be allowed to have all the protections under the E.S.A.

With respect to who is an employee and who is an independent contractor, we have a few lectures as well, so, by all means check those out.

Paid vacation. If you have been working for that employer for five years or more, you get three weeks of paid vacation, previously, it was only two weeks and Employment Standards Act and that remained regardless of your length of service, so, now after three to five years you’ve got three weeks of pay.

Personal Emergency Leave – now, the legislation allows or will allow for 10 Personal Emergency Leave days per year for each employee. So, previously there wasn’t any Personal Emergency Leave category unless there were 50 or more employees in that workplace and it was a different category, but generally there wasn’t a personal emergency leave. Now, you get by default, 10 personal emergency leave days in a year and then out of those 10, two days are paid days so, the employer is required to pay you. And another factor that you want to keep in mind is that for these, for the Personal Emergency Leave you no longer and if it’s because of illness you no longer are required to provide a doctor’s note. Previously if you were sick, the employer may ask you to provide a doctor’s note, but with respect to this personally emergency leave if you are seeking leave because of your illness, you’re not required to provide a doctor’s note.

So, these are some of the changes that are in the pipeline once the legislation is enacted then they will come into force with the timelines that I have talked about. And I’m curious to know that these changes, whether these changes help your circumstances if you’re an employee, or whether they create certain problems for you, if your employer if you have to abide by these legislations and do you believe that this legislation, these changes are effectively responding to the changing workplace environment that we are seeing increasingly around us.

Thank you for watching and we look forward to hearing from you.

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