Bill 148: Big Changes Ahead for Employees and Employers in Ontario

Employment Standards

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (better known as Bill 148) was passed into law on November 27, 2017, which means some significant changes are already in effect for both employers and employees, with many more on the horizon.

We have prepared a comprehensive review of the impacts of Bill 148 on the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and on the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Some of the most significant changes include:

Already in Effect

  • Penalties for employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors
  • Extension of parental leave from 35 to 61 weeks (for employees who do not take pregnancy leave), and from 37 to 63 weeks otherwise
  • Creation of a new critical illness leave, which will provide employees with up to 17 weeks in a 52 week period to provide care to a critically ill adult family member

As of January 1, 2018

  • Increase to the regular minimum wage to $14.00/hour (increasing again to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019)
  • Increased vacation time and vacation pay for employees with five or more years of service, who will be entitled to at least three weeks’ of vacation annually, and vacation pay at the rate of 6% of wages
  • New formulas for the calculation of public holiday pay and overtime for employees who have two or more regular rates for work performed for the same employer
  • Extension of family medical leave from eight weeks within a 26-week period to 28 weeks within a 52 week period
  • Division of crime-related child death or disappearance leave into two separate leaves of absence, crime-related child disappearance leave and child death leave
  • Creation of a new domestic or sexual violence leave, which will provide employees who experience domestic or sexual violence (or the threat of same) with a dual entitlement to 10 days of leave and 15 weeks of leave per calendar year
  • Removal of the 50-employee threshold for personal emergency leave and new requirement that the first two days of the ten day entitlement be paid
  • New entitlement to notice of the termination of an assignment for temporary help agency employees where the employee is assigned to the client for a term of three months or more, and the assignment is terminated prior to the end of the term

As of April 1, 2018

  • Creation of a new requirement of equal pay for equal work, which will prohibit employers from paying an employee at a rate of pay less than the rate paid to another employee purely because of a difference in employment status (e.g. temporary, seasonal, casual, part-time and agency or assignment employees)

As of January 1, 2019

  • Further increase to the regular minimum wage to $15.00/hour;
  • New rights for employees with respect to scheduling, including:
    • the right to request schedule or work location changes, without reprisal;
    • entitlement to a minimum of three hours of pay where an employee is required to attend at work (or be on call) and works less than three hours, calculated based on a new formula;
    • the right to refuse a shift with less than 96 hours notice; and
    • entitlement to cancellation pay where an employer cancels an employee’s entire scheduled day of work or on call period within 48 hours of the start of the shift.

It is critical that both employers and employees understand how their rights and obligations have changed, and will continue to change, as a result of the sweeping amendments brought in by Bill 148. Employers must update their policies and procedures and make sure that they are ready, or face significant liability. We can assist you to review your current agreements, policies and practices and determine what needs to be changed, and to develop a strategy for meeting those requirements coming into force in the future.

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Stuart and others on the team at Rudner Law are frequent contributors to the following sites: 

First Reference Employment Law Resources
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Rudner Employment Lawyer in the Lawyer's Daily
Legal Matters Employment Law Canada

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