It has been busy time at the Ontario legislature, with the government introducing a range of amendments to Ontario employment laws. This includes changes to health and safety, non-compete agreements, minimum wage and a new “disconnect from work” requirement.
To help Ontario workplaces get ready, we’ve provided a recap of the amendments.
Health & Safety
Teh government kicked off its employment law revamp with Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021, which includes amendments to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA).
If there is an accident in the workplace, there will be more sharing of information:
- joint health and safety committee members or health and safety representatives (as applicable) may share any of their findings regarding workplace accidents with the inspector;
- employers must send written reports of critical injuries (which are required within 48 hours) to the committee, representative and union (as applicable).
Bill 13 also enables the government to make future rules regarding what must be included in health and safety policies and programs. (To date, Ontario only required employers to implement health and safety policies and programs, but did not specify what the policies/programs must cover.)
More amendments to OHSA are in Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021, which will require business owners to provide washroom access to delivery workers, subject to certain exceptions (e.g., health and safety concerns, location of the washroom within the workplace).
Bill 27 makes several amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, including one of the more surprising changes – prohibiting employers from entering into non-compete agreements with employees, except where the agreement relates to an executive* or a sale of business. This change was deemed in force as of October 25, 2021, but it does not prohibit non-compete agreements that were entered into before this date.
*Executives are “any person who holds the office of chief executive officer, president, chief administrative officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer, chief legal officer, chief human resources officer or chief corporate development officer, or holds any other chief executive position”.
Disconnecting from Work
Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement changes aimed at helping employees to disconnect from work. Employers with 25+ employees will have to develop a “disconnecting from work” policy (i.e., preventing engaging in work-related communications, such as emails, telephone calls, video calls).
Employers with 25+ employees on January 1, 2022 must develop this policy by June 2, 2022.
Ontario’s latest Bill 43, Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021, increases the general minimum wage from $14.35 to $15.00 per hour. This wage also applies to liquor servers, whose special minimum wage rate will be eliminated. Wages for students under age 18 who work up to 28 hours a week during the school year or work during a school vacation increase from $13.50 to $14.10 an hour.
Other Interesting Developments
Bill 27 included a few other interesting developments, which may impact certain workplaces:
- There will be new licensing requirements for temporary help agencies and recruiters. In addition, to prohibiting persons from operating an unlicensed agency/recruiter, these new rules will also prevent businesses from engaging or using the services of an unlicensed agency/recruiter.
- Regulated professions will be prohibited from including Canadian experience requirements as qualifications for registration, unless an exemption from the prohibition is granted (e.g., for public health and safety reasons). However, they will be required to comply with any regulations respecting English or French language proficiency testing requirements.
If you have employees in Alberta, read our earlier post: New Alberta Health and Safety Act.
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