The highly anticipated details of the Ontario Government’s plan to repeal parts of Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act ­– were released October 23rd, 2018, in Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. The Government has stated that the new legislation is aimed at enabling employers to boost job creation and investment by reducing employers’ regulatory burdens. Some highlights from Bill 47 include:

Freezing the Minimum Wage at $14

  • The Minimum Wage will be subject to an annual inflation adjustment on October 1st of every year starting in 2020.

Repeals to Scheduling

Notably, the three-hour rule for regular shifts (as added by Bill 148) remains intact. However, several other three-hour rules and related
scheduling amendments from Bill 148 are repealed in Bill 47, namely:

  • Right to request changes to schedule or work location (after an employee has been employed for at least three months).
  • Mandatory three-hour pay for on-call employees if not called into work or if they work for less than three hours.
  • Right to 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.
  • Mandatory three-hour pay if a shift or on-call shift is cancelled within 48 hours of the start of the scheduled shift.

The remaining three-hour rule for regular shifts entails mandatory three-hour pay for employees who present themselves at work but work less than three hours, with the exception of work stoppages caused by storms, fire or other similar circumstances that are out of the employer’s control. This rule would come into force on January 1, 2019 or whenever Bill 47 receives royal assent (whichever is later).

Changes to Personal Emergency Leave & Other Leaves

  • Replacing Bill 148 Personal Emergency Leave reforms with a package of annual leave days for every worker.
  • Workers will have the right to take up to (a) three days for personal illness, (b) two days for bereavement and (c) three days for family responsibilities. It has not yet been indicated whether these days will be paid or if they will supplement or replace the existing personal emergency leave entitlements.
  • Repealing the provision that forbids employers from requiring an employee to provide a medical note from a qualified health practitioner. In other words, employers could require evidence of entitlement to the leave (thought it must be reasonable in the circumstances).

Public Holiday Pay calculated on prorated pay formula (returning to the pre-Bill 148 calculation)

Repealing the requirement that an employer (rather than the employee) must prove that an individual is not an employee in an employment status dispute

Repealing equal pay for equal work on the basis of employment status (i.e. part-time workers) and assignment employee status (i.e. temporary help agency status) but maintaining equal pay on the basis of sex

Bill 47 would also make changes to the Labour Relations Act. Bill 47 will not change amendments from Bill 148 implementing leave entitlements in the case of domestic or sexual violence and requiring three weeks paid vacation after five years of employment.

The first reading of Bill 47 took place yesterday. While it has yet to go through second and third readings at the Legislative Assembly, if passed, the Government’s proposed legislation would come into force on the date it receives royal assent or January 1, 2019 (whichever is later). Accordingly, employers should stay tuned as the fate of the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 will impact their business one way or the other.