On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (Bill 47) in the Ontario legislature. Bill 47 proposes significant changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.
The government has stated that Bill 47 is intended to “bring jobs and investment back to [Ontario]” by removing certain statutory obligations implemented by the previous government’s Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.
If passed, Bill 47 will introduce significant amendments to the ESA.
Bill 47 looks to eliminate the January 1, 2019 increase to Ontario’s minimum wage. Instead, the minimum wage would be frozen at C$14.00 until October 1, 2020. It also states that the minimum wage would be subject to an annual inflation adjustment on October 1 of every year, starting in 2020.
REQUEST FOR SCHEDULE OR WORK LOCATION CHANGES
If passed, Bill 47 would repeal the proposed scheduling provisions that were expected to come into force on January 1, 2019. Under Bill 47, employees would no longer have the right to:
- Request changes to work schedule or work location after an employee has been employed for at least three months
- Minimum of three hours' pay for being on-call if the employee is available to work but is not called in to work, or works less than three hours
- Refuse requests or demands to work or to be on-call on a day that an employee is not scheduled to work or to be on-call with less than 96 hours' notice
- Three hours' pay in the event of cancelation of a scheduled shift or an on-call shift within 48 hours before the shift was to begin
Bill 47 looks to implement a new three-hour rule providing that if an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to report to work, but works less than three hours, the employee would be paid for three hours.
EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK
Bill 47 also proposes to repeal the equal pay provisions of the ESA guaranteeing part-time, casual, temporary, and assignment employee status workers (temporary help agency status), the same pay entitlements as full-time permanent workers.
Bill 47 would therefore remove the definition of “difference in employment status” from the ESA.
LEAVES OF ABSENCE
Bill 47 would repeal the personal emergency leave provisions, which had entitled employees to 10 days of emergency leave, two of which were paid. The new “sick leave, family responsibility leave and bereavement leave” provisions under Bill 47 provide that employees will be limited to three unpaid days for personal illness, three unpaid days for family responsibility and two unpaid days for bereavement.
The new sick leave provision under Bill 47 would also give employers the right to require evidence of entitlement to the leave that is reasonable in the circumstances (e.g., a note from a qualified health practitioner).
PUBLIC HOLIDAY PAY
Bill 47 looks to repeal the averaging public holiday pay formula, as set out in Ontario Regulation 375/18, and returns it to the previous public holiday pay formula.
MISCLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES
Bill 148 imposed a reverse onus on employers to prove that independent contractors and other non-employees were not, in fact, employees in misclassification claims. Bill 47 would eliminate that reverse onus requirement for the employer to prove that an individual is not an employee.
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