Over the past year we have spent a lot of time thinking, writing, presenting and advising on Bill 148. As Toronto employment lawyers the Ontario employment laws are our bread and butter. Bill 148 overhauled many aspects of the laws we work with every day. This post provides an overview of some of the most significant changes and directs you to resources elsewhere on our blog and our site to help you navigate the changing legal landscape of your workplace.
Bill 148 received Royal Assent from the Ontario legislature in November 2017. The Bill made significant changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, among others. The Bill also changed the Occupational Health and Safety Act, banning mandatory high heels for women in most industries. Some changes, mostly related to leaves of absence, came into force in early December with the majority following on January 1, 2018. Many changes are still to come, including additional increases to the minimum wage and scheduling changes in January 2019. You can get a full breakdown of the Bill 148 timelines by accessing the Compliance Checklist in our Bill 148 Compliance Program.
Highlights of the Changes
As we’ve helped our clients to navigate the changes we’ve blogged and advised on a variety of topics. The Bill 148 changes are largely employee and union friendly and have presented both financial and practical challenges for our employer and management clients. Below is a short round-up of Bill 148 topics we have covered on our blog.
In December 2017, the federal government changed the Parental Leave program so that new parents in federally regulated workplaces could take up to 18 months off of work. With Bill 148, the Ontario government followed suit by amending the ESA to allow for the same benefit for workers covered by provincial legislation. For an overview of the various types of leaves created and changed by Bill 148, see our post on Scheduling, Leaves and Vacation.
One leave change that has gotten a lot of attention is the expansion of Personal Emergency Leave. Bill 148 amended this ESA leave to provide all employees with two paid days of leave and eight unpaid days for an illness, injury or an urgent matter related to an employee’s health, or the health or death of an employee’s loved one. The full ten days of leave are available to all employees, even those who are short-term. Check out our post on Personal Emergency Leave for Short-Term Workers for a full explanation.
The Bill 148 changes to vacation entitlements also created a lot of buzz in the workplace. January 1, 2018, saw workers with at least five years of seniority getting bumped up from two weeks of vacation per year to three. See our post on Vacation Entitlements for more on this topic.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
The Equal Pay for Equal Work amendments came into force on April 1, 2018. These change how part-time, casual or seasonal staff are paid. It is now a legal requirement that compensation be equal for all employees performing substantially the same job, regardless of their employment status. Exceptions to this requirement can be made based on seniority, merit or where employees are paid based on quantity or quality of production.
Public Holiday Pay
The most recent Bill 148 news item is related to Public Holiday Pay. Reportedly the Bill 148 change to how Public Holiday Pay is calculated generated a high volume of Ministry of Labour complaints. Consequently, this change is being reversed. Starting July 1, 2018, Public Holiday Pay will be calculated according to the pre-Bill 148 formula. For further details see our post on the Public Holiday Pay changes.
Preparing for the Future
We recommend that employers prepare for January 1, 2019 changes now, specifically those related to scheduling. For example, the Three Hour Rule changes will impact how employers build their schedules and when they notify employees of those schedules. See our Scheduling, Leaves and Vacation post for an overview of these changes.
We have also blogged about wage changes and changes affecting unionized workplaces. Few in Ontario would have escaped the news about the minimum wage increase on January 1, 2018, from $11.40 to $14.00. It will increase again to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019. Changes affecting unionized workplaces largely provide more protections for unions and make it easier for workplaces to unionize.
Because Bill 148 is so far-reaching, we’ve prepared an entire client program to get employers up to speed. You can purchase access to our Bill 148 Compliance Program, including a full length eBook, four training webinars and a Compliance Checklist by contacting us.
Bill 148 has become one of our favourite topics. If you need advice about how to implement any of the changes specific to your workplace, we would be pleased to assist.