This Bill ushers in further changes to the Ontario workplace statutory landscape, with amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA) and the Pension Benefits Act (PBA). The ESA and PBA changes are now in effect. The majority of the LRA changes will come into effect on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
Changes to the ESA
The changes to the ESA came into force on April 3, 2019, and have a practical impact on workplaces where overtime is common and where employees work more than the ESA maximum weekly hours of work – 48 hours.
Bill 66 amends the ESA to remove the requirement that employers obtain the approval from the Director of Employment Standards regarding agreements with employees or bargaining units on overtime and excess weekly hours of work.
Overtime Averaging – As was previously the case, employers are allowed to enter into agreements to average the hours an employee works over a specified number of weeks in order to limit the employee’s entitlement to overtime. Prior to Bill 66, approval from the Director of Employment Standards was required. Approval is no longer required, though there are new requirements:
- Averaging can occur over a maximum of 4 weeks
- The averaging agreement must include a start date and an end date
Excess Weekly Hours of Work – The maximum weekly hours of work remains the same, 48. Approval was previously required to have employees enter into agreements to exceed the maximum. A written agreement between the employee or bargaining unit and the employer is still required to exceed the maximum, but approval from the Director of Employment Standards is not.
ESA Poster Requirement – Previous to Bill 66, the ESA required that the ESA poster, which is a one-page graphic about employment rights be posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace. Bill 66 has removed this requirement. Employers are still required to provide employees with a copy of the poster upon hire.
Changes to the LRA
Bill 66 amends the LRA to expand the definition of “non-construction employers” to include a wide number of public sector organizations such as municipalities, hospitals, universities and various administrators. The LRA has specific provisions for the construction industry and this change will impact whom those provisions apply to. This provision is not yet in effect, however, a provision allowing some entities to “opt-out” of this change is now in effect and these entities now have three months to file an “opt-out” election.
Changes to the PBA
The Bill 66 amendments to the PBA impact the process by which private sector employers convert single-employer pension plans to jointly sponsored pension plans.
We expect the changes to the ESA to have the biggest impact on day to day operations of private workplaces. If your workplace has averaging agreements or excess hours agreements in place these changes may impact you. Get in touch to talk about the specifics of your situation, we’re here to help!