Update: Bill 47 changes Ontario’s employment standards

January 01, 2019

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The employment standards in Ontario are changing—Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 passed on November 21, 2018. Many of the provisions in Bill 47 came into effect on January 1, 2019.

Key changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) include:

  • maintaining the minimum wage at $14 per hour (with annual adjustments tied to inflation beginning on October 1, 2020)
  • implementing the three-hour rule for shortened shifts
  • replacing personal emergency-leave entitlements with unpaid annual leave days
  • eliminating equal-pay-for-equal-work entitlements based on employment status

Employers need to review company policies, procedures, and employment contracts to ensure they are complying with the new standards. However, before making changes it is important to consider that:

  • employers can always provide a greater right to employees
  • revoking what has already been provided (e.g., minimum-wage increases to comply with Bill 148) may create challenges in terms of employee dissatisfaction and may even be considered constructive dismissal
  • although employers have the right to ask for medical notes, they should ensure requests are reasonable
  • the duty to accommodate may entitle employees to a greater right than is outlined under employment legislation

Beyond Bill 47

In 2019, the introduction of additional legislation has the potential to further impact Ontario’s employment standards. Additional legislation includes:

  • Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency, and Accountability Act, 2018, passed December 6, 2018:
    • delaying the Pay Transparency Act, 2018
    • changing pension-related provisions 
  • Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 tabled December 6, 2018, if passed, impacts:
    • excess-hours agreements
    • overtime-averaging agreements
    • ESA poster
    • certain provisions of Ontario’s Labour Relations Act

We will continue to provide you with updates as they become available.

BDO’s HR Advisory team is available to help you navigate the ever-changing legislation, and revise your HR policies and procedures accordingly.

As certified HR professionals, we provide reliable and trustworthy support to employers as they manage complex HR issues and regulatory requirements. BDO’s HR Advisory team provides trusted advice when you need it most.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss any other human resources concerns, please contact your local BDO office.