The past few years have seen a myriad of changes, amendments and retractions with respect to the Ontario Employment Standards Act. The changes are so numerous, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Below, we provide an overview of the contents and status of the recent changes.

Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, or Bill 148

In November of 2017, amendments were enacted that were aimed at benefitting the employee. The most obvious of these concerned new parental leave options and more liberal personal emergency leave. The same law also amended the Occupational Health & Safety Act and banned mandatory high heels in most industries.

Many of these changes took effect immediately. One of the revisions, however, was an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and was scheduled to commence in January of 2019. See the next section for further information on this particular amendment.

Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, or Bill 47

Introduce into this chronology the election of Premier Ford. In October of 2018, new revisions were introduced, one of which would keep the minimum wage at $14 per hour. This bill, which became law in November of 2018, repealed many of the prior revisions noted above.

This bill reduced employee entitlement to three unpaid sick days and three further days for family emergencies as well as two bereavement days. It also eliminated the prior waiver of a medical report necessary to establish illness.

Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, or Bill 66

Further amendments were passed in April of 2019. These amendments, generally pro-employer, made it easier to require longer work hours. Previously to require work in excess of 48 hours a week, employers needed the approval of the Director of Employment Standards. This has been eliminated.

Employees working in excess of 44 hours per week are entitled to overtime for the hours over 44. Bill 66 allows for averaging over 4 weeks. Similarly, mutual consent is required and the approval of the Director is not.

Previously employers were required to publicly post the Employment Standards poster setting out employee rights in the workplace. The new bill requires that this poster be given to new hires, but does not mandate that it be visibly displayed.

Generally speaking, Bill 66 is now law. This bill also amended the Labour Relations Act and the Pension Benefits Act.

Employers’ and Employees’ Views

The various amendments, revocations and new laws are hard to track for both employers and employees. Employer compliance is crucial, and so staying abreast of these changes is extremely important. Further, employees need to be aware of their rights and entitlements. If you have any questions at all, reach out to an experienced employment lawyer who can go over all employment-related rights and obligations with you.

Get Advice and Know Your Rights

If you have questions about this issue or any employment question, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP. We regularly advise both employers and employees on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416 364 9599 to schedule a consultation.