Not law yet, Ontario Employers have been waiting to see the recommendations from the review of the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act
The Ministry of Labour released the results of The Changing Workplaces Review. It's an extensive report touching on many employment issues. I've tried to capture some highlights here that may be of interest to manufacturers in Ontario.
To begin with, there is a recommendation to create a "Workplace Rights Act" which would consolidate three pieces of legislation: the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and Occupational Health and Safety Act. It further recommends that this new single Act should be "more expressly focused on workplace rights".
The review identified there were many workers that were being denied either minimum wage, or overtime or hours of work protection. Because of that, there was a recommendation to eliminate exemptions related to student minimum wage rate and for the three-hour rule, and revising the exemption for managerial and supervisory employees so that both salary and job duties are considered. They are also recommending a new rule that limits paying part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees at different amounts unless there are objective grounds such as seniority, merit or other objective factors that justify the difference. "We state that the principle that those who perform the work of comparable full-time employees should be paid the same accords with fairness and decency as it is grounded in equality of treatment"
An interesting recommendation is for an urgent study "as to how, at least a minimum standard of insured health benefits can be provided across workplaces, especially to those full-time and part-time employees without coverage, the self-employed and including small employers. We also recommend working with the Federal Government to review the private pension system and considering public programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement to assist low earning Ontarians".
Predictable scheduling was also a point of the review and a sector specific approach to the regulation (prioritizing retail and fast-food sectors) should be a part of the new regulation.
The report recommends limiting the amount of time during which an assignment employee can be paid less than the workers the client hired directly. We recommend a qualifying period of six months before there is a requirement for equal pay.
The review wants to lessen administrative burdens for employers such as eliminating the requirement to get Ministry of Labour approval for employees to work 48-60 hours a week (but keeping the requirement for weekly hours over 60) and the elimination of a blended overtime rate.
There is a recommendation to remove bereavement leave from the Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) provisions and made an separate entitlement for up to 3 unpaid days for the family members currently covered under the PEL definition. And that PEL provisions be amended to provide an annual entitlement of 7 days and be expanded to include domestic violence as a reason for absence. That said, there were no specific recommendations to add sick days to the personal leave entitlements. Although they did recommend increasing the current Family Medical Leave provisions to 26 weeks in a 52-week period (up from 8 weeks in a 26-week period).
If adopted, vacation entitlement will increase to 3 weeks after 5 years with the same employer.
Another clarification that may be adopted is the classification of independent contractors. This may result in the addition of the definition of a "dependent contractor" under the definition of "employee" in the ESA. The burden of proving worker is not an employee will shift to the person receiving the worker's services.
The report also identifies that interns and trainees are often taken advantage of and should not be excluded from the rights under the ESA.
There is also an entire section on Labour Relations and collective bargaining that I won't get into here. There will also likely be additional training requirements to make sure all employees understand their employment rights. And separate from all of this is the proposed phase in of a $15 minimum wage!
I've attached the summary report below and you will want to take a look as there is much more to all I've mentioned here. https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/workplace/index.php
Changing Workplaces indeed!