The “Open For Business Act” – What is Changing?

Just as we were getting used to “Bill 148” (the Fair Workplaces Act), now the Ford government has come out with Bill 47, the “Open for Business: Removing Burdens While Protecting Workers Act”.

There are many components to the bill, one deals with the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, while another deals with changes to Apprenticeship .  Today we will talk about the ESA changes, and next blog will deal with the OLRA and Apprenticeship.

Here are the Employment Standards changes being proposed:

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage will remain at $14.00/hour, until at least October 2020 and then future increases (if approved) will be tied to inflation.

Scheduling: Most of the previous scheduling changes are being eliminated: the 96-hour call-in rule; the three hours’ pay for cancelling a shift or being on-call; the right to request changes to schedule and/or location.

Personal Emergency Leave: The current provision for 10 PEL days, of which two are paid, will be replaced with a package of eight unpaid annual leave days, divided into three unpaid days for personal illness; two unpaid bereavement leave days; and three unpaid days for “family responsibilities.”  There is no clarification at this time to suggest that bereavement or family days could be taken as sick days if needed. There is no clarification at this time regarding conflicts with existing bereavement leave provisions that employers may offer.

Doctor’s Notes: Employers will again be allowed to request a medical note from a “qualified health practitioner” when an employee uses personal emergency leave.

Vacation and Public Holiday Pay: Vacation pay increase to 3 weeks after 5 years remains. The original (pre-Bill 148) public holiday pay formula will be in effect (wages earned in previous 4 weeks divided by 20).

Contractor vs employee: The bill eliminates the reverse onus on the employer to prove that an individual is not an employee.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: The language requiring part time workers to be paid the same as full time is being cancelled. The requirement for equal pay on the basis of sex will remain.

These changes are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2019Contact us today to ensure your policies remain compliant!