Changes to the Employment Standards Act and partial repeal of Bill 148

January 2, 2019

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On October 23rd, the Ontario government announced Bill 47 Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. The Open for Business Act, if passed, will repeal most Bill 148 Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, as well as the dissolution of the Ontario College of Trades, and improvements to the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio.

The most significant changes the Open for Business Act intends to introduce to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 include:

  • Freezing the minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020.
  • Changing Personal Emergency LeaveDays to three personal illness days, two days for bereavement and three days for family responsibilities, all of which are likely unpaid.
  • Repealing the requirement for the employer to prove that an individual is not an employee where there is a dispute over whether the individual is an employee.
  • Repealing equal pay for equal work based on employment status (part-time, casual, and temporary) and assignment employee status (temporary help agency status). The requirement for equal pay based on sex will remain.
  • Repealing planned changes including the right to refuse scheduling changes without sufficient notice, on-call pay and cancellation pay.
  • Reducing administrative penalties to the previous maximums for contraventions of the ESA from $350/$700/$1500 to $250/$500/$1000, respectively.

If passed, the Open for Business Act will also introduce the following changes to the Labour Relations Act:

  • Repealing card-based certification for workers in home care, building services and temporary help agencies.
  • Repealing the rules that required an employer to provide employees’ contact information to a union if it could establish it had 20% support from the employees.
  • Reinstating the pre-Bill 148 test and preconditions for the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to certify a union as a remedy for employer misconduct.
  • Repealing the power of the OLRB to review and consolidate newly certified bargaining units with existing bargaining units.
  • Returning to the six-month limitation on an employee's right to reinstatement following the start of a strike or lock-out.
  • Reinstate pre-Bill 148 conditions for access to first agreement arbitration.
  • Returning to the previous maximum fines for offences under the LRA by decreasing the fines from $5,000 to $2,000 for individuals and $100,000 to $25,000 for organizations.

If you have any questions about how these changes may impact your business or its tax position, please reach out to your account manager at Bateman MacKay for clarification.


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