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Ontario Bill 149 – More Employment Law Changes for Ontario Employers

Woman hiring - Ontario Bill 149 compliance

Ontario Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2023 is the province’s 5th Bill in the last 2 years to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). This means that employers with employees located in Ontario must understand and implement yet another round of employment law changes.

Ontario Bill 149 includes new rules for employers to follow when posting job ads, and clarifies who is considered an employee, as well as issues related to pay. Our post provides a concise review of Ontario Bill 149 – so you can get up to speed on the implications for your workplace, quickly.

Job Postings

Bill 149 includes new requirements aimed at increasing employer transparency obligations with respect to publicly posted job ads. This builds on past ESA amendments, which require employers to disclose their expectations around disconnecting from work and electronic monitoring.

Specifically, employers will be required to disclose the following in job postings:

  • expected compensation for the position (or the range of expected compensation);
  • whether any artificial intelligence was used to screen, assess or select applicants for a position.

In addition, Ontario Bill 149 prohibits employers from including Canadian experience requirements in publicly advertised job postings or associated application forms. Employers must retain copies of these job postings and any associated application forms for 3 years after the job ad is no longer publicly available.

All of these requirements regarding what must or must not be included in job ads indicate that they may be subject to exceptions in future regulations. The government also specified that these new requirements will be brought into force at a future date. This means that the government has given itself time to create exemptions from these requirements – perhaps for certain jobs or industries – before these changes apply to your workplace.

Who is an Employee?

All employment standards legislation defines who is an employee – for purposes of determining who is entitled to protections under these laws. In a prior post, we talked about the importance of confirming who is an employee.

Ontario defines employees to include persons who receive training from an employer, if the skill in which they are being trained is a skill used by the employer’s employees. Bill 149 clarifies the meaning of “training” to include work performed during any trial period. This change comes into force as soon as the Bill is passed by the government.

Employee Wages & Vacation Pay

Ontario Bill 149 clarifies a couple of points related to employee pay:

  • For those who pay their workers by direct deposit, Bill 149 clarifies that payments must be made to an account selected by the employee. This is in addition to requirements to confirm that the account is in the employee’s name, and no person other than the employee (or a person they authorize) has access to the account.
  • Currently, an employer may only pay vacation pay that accrues during a pay period on the pay day for that period if the employer and employee have agreed. Bill 149 changes this requirement so that the employer and employee must make an agreement (i.e., in writing) regarding the payment method.

The government is giving employers time to adjust to these changes, as they are scheduled to come into force 3 months after the Bill is passed.

Ontario Bill 149 Industry-Specific Changes

Bill 149 also includes some changes for certain service industry employers.

Prohibited Deductions

If a customer of a restaurant, gas station or other establishment leaves without paying for the goods or services received, employers cannot deduct the cost of those services from an employee’s wages. This change comes into force as soon as the Bill is passed.

Tips & Gratuities

In workplaces where tips and gratuities are part of employee compensation, employers will have to follow new rules regarding how the tips/gratuities are paid to the employee. For example, if employees are paid by cash or cheque, the employer must provide the cash or cheque at the workplace or another place agreeable to the employee.

If an employer has a policy regarding the employer or a director or shareholder of the employer sharing in pooled tips/gratuities, the employer must:

  • post a copy of the policy in the workplace;
  • retain copies of this policy for 3 years after it is no longer in effect.

Again, the government appears to be giving affected employers time to adjust to these changes, which come into force 3 months after Royal Assent.

More Changes Coming for Employers – Upcoming Consultations

The government appears to be committed to making even more changes to the ESA in the near feature, as it also announced plans to launch consultations regarding:

  • restricting the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in the settlement of cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence;
  • creating a new, job-protected leave for critical illnesses to match the length of the 26-week federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits.

How Compliance Works Helps Employers

Ontario Bill 149 is just the latest in a series of changes to Ontario employment legislation. And given that the Ontario government announced consultations on further changes, it doesn’t look like Bill 149 is the last amending Bill we will see!

Compliance Works makes it easy to stay on top of never ending changes to HR laws with quick summaries of changing requirements – in as little as 24 hours of amendments being announced.

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Ontario Bill 149 – More Employment Law Changes for Ontario Employers 2

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About the author

Lesha Van Der Bij
Lesha Van Der Bij CEO and Co-Founder, Compliance Works
Lesha is a senior lawyer who spent many years of her legal career at major Canadian law firms reviewing legislation and creating easy-to-understand summaries for clients.

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