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Upcoming Changes in the Workplace

Minimum wage

We’ve introduced legislation to increase the general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019.

Equal pay for casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees

What’s changing

It will be mandatory for employers to pay:

  • casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, who are doing substantially the same work as full-time/permanent employees, the same rate of pay as full-time/permanent employees
  • temporary help agency employees (also known as assignment employees), who are doing substantially the same work as employees of the client, the same rate of pay as employees of the client

Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees will be allowed to ask their employer to review their rate of pay if they believe they’re not receiving the same rate of pay as full-time/permanent employees who perform substantially the same work.

Temporary help agency employees will also be allowed to ask their employer to review their rate of pay if they believe they’re not receiving the same rate of pay as employees of the client who perform substantially the same work.

The employer will have to respond by either adjusting the employee’s pay or giving the employee a written explanation.

Exceptions

Employers will be exempt from the new equal pay for equal work rules for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees, if the wage difference is based on:

  • a seniority or merit system
  • systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production
  • other factors (sex and employment status will not qualify as an exception)

Temporary help agencies will be exempt from the new equal pay for equal work rules for temporary help agency assignment employees if the difference in the rate in pay is based on something other than sex, employment status or assignment employee status.

Comes into effect

This will come into effect on April 1, 2018.

 

Scheduling

What’s changing

The legislation will allow employees to:

  • request a schedule or location change once they’ve been employed for three months, without fear of being penalized
  • refuse shifts if their employer asks them to work with less than 96 hours’ notice, without fear of retaliation, with certain exceptions

Employers will also be required to pay wages to the employees for three hours of work if the employee:

  • regularly works more than three hours a day, shows up for work and works less than three hours or not at all (for example, the shift is cut short)
  • the shift is cancelled within 48 hours of their scheduled start time, with certain exceptions
  • is scheduled to be on-call but, despite being available to work, is either not called in to work or works less than three hours. This will be required for each 24-hour period the employee is on call

Exceptions

Cancellations

Employers will not be required to pay for a cancelled shift if they were unable to provide work because of:

  • fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond their control or
  • the employee’s work is weather-dependent and the employer is unable to provide work for weather-related reasons

Three hour rule

Employers will not be required to pay wages for three hours for a shift that lasts fewer than three hours if they were unable to provide work because of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond their control.

Refusing a shift with less than 96 hours’ notice

Employees cannot refuse a shift if the reason that the employer is asking them to work or be on call is to:

  • deal with an emergency
  • remedy or reduce a threat to public safety
  • ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, regardless of who delivers those services

On-call pay rules

Employers will not be required to pay wages for three hours for an on-call shift if the employee is on call to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, regardless of who delivers those services and the employee was not required to work.

Comes into effect

These scheduling changes will come into effect on January 1, 2019.

Vacation time

What’s changing

Under the legislation, employees will be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after five years with the same employer.

Comes into effect

This will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

Personal emergency leave

What’s changing

Currently, some employees have the right to take up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave, each calendar year due to illness, injury and other emergencies/ urgent matters. But these rules only apply to workplaces with 50 or more employees.

The legislation will require all employers to give all employees 10 personal emergency leave days per year, including two paid days if the employee has been employed for one week or longer (7 days).

Comes into effect

This will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

Domestic or sexual violence leave

What’s changing

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.

Comes into effect

This will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

 

Footwear with an elevated heel

What’s changing

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers cannot require workers to wear footwear with an elevated heel (for instance, high heels) unless they are needed for the worker’s safety.

Exceptions

This does not apply to employers of workers in the entertainment and advertising industries.

Comes into effect

This came into effect on November 27, 2017.

If you have any questions about employment law please contact Ontario Legal Pool. 

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