We recently reported on the Working for Workers Act 2021, which received royal assent and became law in Ontario on December 2, 2021. It introduced several key changes, including the requirement for larger employers to have a written policy on disconnecting from work and a prohibition on employers entering non-compete agreements.

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has now passed the Working for Workers Act 2022. This introduces further key changes to Ontario’s workplace legal regime. This article looks at one of these changes – introducing foundational rights and protections for digital platform workers.

The Working for Workers Act 2022 has Received Royal Assent

The Ontario Government introduced Bill 88 on February 28, 2022, and it received royal assent and became law on April 11, 2022.

One of the main reasons for the Government pursuing this Bill was to regulate so-called gig workers. These workers use apps to book jobs, such as transporting people or delivering food, working for companies such as Uber, Door Dash and Instacart. They are typically independent contractors not subject to the Employment Standards Act 2000 (ESA).

Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said:

No one working in Ontario should ever make less than minimum wage for an hour’s work. No one working in Ontario should be dismissed without notice, explanation or recourse. No one should have to travel out of the country to resolve a workplace dispute or sign a contract they do not understand. These core rights are a foundation in our mission to help all workers earn bigger paychecks to take care of their families, not an endpoint.

As the first province to introduce such changes, the Government has said that gig workers will be better off than their counterparts in other provinces.

The Working for Workers Act 2022 introduces Foundational Rights and Protections for Digital Platform Workers

The Working for Workers Act 2022 creates the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act 2022 (Act). It establishes rights for workers who perform digital platform work. It also sets out rules, processes, and requirements regarding record-keeping, director liability, complaints and enforcement, collections, and offences and prosecutions.

The Act will come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

How does the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act define digital platform work?

The Act covers those that perform “digital platform work,” which is defined as:

subject to the regulations, the provision of for payment rideshare, delivery, courier or other prescribed services by workers who are offered work assignments by an operator through the use of a digital platform.

A “digital platform” is an online platform that allows workers to choose to accept or decline digital platform work.

What are the rights of digital platform workers?

The rights for digital platform workers are set out in sections 7 to 13 of the Act. They are briefly summarized below.

  • The right to information
    • Operators are required to provide a range of information to workers in writing within 24 hours of workers being given access to the platform, for example, a description of how pay is calculated, any factors used to determine whether work assignments are offered to workers, whether there is a performance rating system and whether there are consequences based on a worker’s performance rating or a worker’s failure to perform a work assignment.
    • The information must be provided in a range of other circumstances as well. For example, when offering a work assignment, the operator needs to provide an estimated amount the worker will be paid and how it was calculated.
  • The right to recurring pay period and payday
    • Operators need to establish a recurring pay period, and a recurring payday and must pay all amounts earned during each pay period, including tips and gratuities, by that day.
  • The right to minimum wage
    • The Act requires operators to pay workers at least minimum wage for each work assignment. This is the level set out in section 23.1(1)(1)(iv) of the ESA, which is currently $15 per hour.
  • The right to amounts earned and tips and other gratuities
    • Operators must not withhold amounts earned or tips or other gratuities from a worker or make any deductions unless authorized to do so by another statute or a court.
  • The right to notice of removal
    • Operators must not remove a worker from the platform without providing a written explanation. If access is removed for 24 hours or more, the worker needs to be given two weeks’ written notice unless the worker is guilty of wilful misconduct.
  • The right for work-related disputes to be resolved in Ontario.
  • The right not to be intimidated or penalized for various reasons, including because the worker attempts to exercise a right under the Act or files a complaint with the Ministry.

What Have Others said About the Changes?

Not everyone shares the Government’s view. For example, Gig Workers United and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have condemned the minimum wage provision, arguing that this is insufficient because time on assignment is less than all hours worked. The president of Gig Workers United, Jennifer Scott, said:

We know gig workers around the world who have dealt with minimum wage for ‘engaged time’. This government is playing a dangerous game with devastating consequences; bringing in a stand-alone bill that carves gig workers out of Employment Standards Act rights and protections is exactly what Uber has been lobbying for – this is the Working for Uber Act.  

Contact the Employment Lawyers at GGFH LLP in Toronto to Understand your Legal Rights and Obligations under the Working for Workers Act

To discuss how these amendments may affect you or your business, please contact the seasoned labour and employment lawyers at GGFH LLP in Toronto. Our lawyers have long been at the forefront of employment and labour law and have been recognized as leaders by our peers in Lexpert. We are one of the most recommended labour and employment law firms in Canada. If you need guidance with a workplace-related issue, contact us online or at 416.364.9599.