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Bill 47: Amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Ontario Labour Relations Act

Outlined below is a description of the changes that will be effective January 1, 2019 with respect to both the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Here are a few things to consider with respect to the changes.

  1. As has always been the case, employers must comply with the minimum standards set out in legislation but can always provide a greater right or benefit than what is in the Act. That means that if, as a result of Bill 148, you have made changes that you are comfortable with, or already offer something in excess of the new requirements, you may continue to do so. In fact, rolling back what has already been provided may create challenges in terms of employee dissatisfaction and possibly even arguments of constructive dismissal.
  2. There may be practical realities to consider. For example, it is a welcome change that employers will be allowed to ask for medical notes. However, rather than forcing employees to get a doctor’s note for every single absence, you may wish to limit those requests to occasions when an employee has missed 3+ days of work or there is a pattern of absenteeism and some of those absences do not appear legitimate.
  3. You may have a duty to accommodate employees based on grounds such as family status and disability which may entitle them to more time off than is set out under the Act.
  4. Even though there is no longer a presumption that an individual is an employee, with the onus on the organization to prove they are an independent contractor, the reality is that the same rules apply in making that determination. The risk and consequences of getting it wrong also remain high.
  5. Several provisions introduced by Bill 148 were not impacted by Bill 47 and remain the law in Ontario. These include:
    • increased vacation entitlement (three weeks of vacation after five years of service)
    • increased parental leave and pregnancy leave
    • increased critical illness leave
    • extended family medical leave; and
    • domestic and sexual violence leave.

To view the changes in chart form, please click here