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What Business Owners Should Know About New Ontario Labour Laws

By Vana Amanatidis, Director of Human Resources at Stern Cohen

As a business owner, do you feel you have a good understanding of the recent changes to Ontario’s employment labour laws?  We have definitely heard a lot in the media lately about changes to minimum wage. In fact, the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017” or Bill 148, passed on November 22, 2017, made a number of changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

As an HR Consultant with Stern Cohen, I am here to help Toronto business owners understand the new legislation and the steps you need to take to protect yourself and meet your obligations.

In this article, I will summarize the 5 most significant changes. It’s a quick read and not overwhelming (like the Act itself).  But if you’d like a more complete review of the Bill 148 amendments, please visit www.ontla.on.ca.

5 Key Changes to Ontario’s Labour Laws

1. Minimum Wage:

General minimum wage increased to $14.00 per hour in January 2018 and will increase further to $15.00 per hour from January 2019.

2. Equal Pay for Equal Work:

Part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees are entitled to the same rate of pay as full-time/permanent employees who perform substantially the same work.

3. Vacation and Leave Entitlements:

  • Employees are entitled to 3 weeks of paid vacation after 5 years with the same employer.
  • Employers are required to give all employees 10 personal emergency leave days per year, including two paid days.
  • Employers are prohibited from requesting doctors’ notes when an employee claims leave due to illness.
  • Family medical leave is extended to 28 weeks and includes siblings, grand-parents, in-laws, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews, and other prescribed individuals.

4. New Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave:

An employee who has been employed for at least 13 consecutive weeks will be entitled to up to 10 individual days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave if the employee or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence. The first five days of leave, each calendar year, will be paid, the rest will be unpaid.

5. Employee Misclassification:

Employers cannot misclassify employees as independent contractors. This addresses cases where employers treat employees as if they are self-employed and not entitled to employment standards protections.

How I Can Help You and Your Business

Is your business ready for these changes?  Have your programs, policies and procedures been reviewed to ensure compliance?  How will these changes impact your business and your employees?

As an HR consultant, I am available to support your business through these changes and to ensure your business is ready in an efficient and cost-effective way.

For more information about how I can assist, please contact Stern Cohen today.

Author Note: Vana Amanatidis is the Director of Human Resources at Stern Cohen, where she is responsible for all elements of Human Resources including human resources strategy, recruitment, compensation and benefits, organizational effectiveness and employee relations. Her focus is to build a workplace that is supportive for employees and clients. 

Vana holds the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation and is a member of the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA).

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