Those ESA Posters can come down now…
On April 3, 2019, Bill 66 Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act became law and received Royal Assent in the Ontario legislature. As the Ford Government promised, Bill 66 brings further statutory changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)¸ the Labour Relations Act (LRA), and the Pension Benefit Act (PBA) with the objective to cut down on bureaucratic red tape and requirements.
Here is what employers need to know:
Employment Standards Act, 2000
ESA Poster Requirement – Bill 66 has removed the requirement that employers post the newly revised, statutorily-mandated one page general information ESA poster (available on the Ministry of Labour’s website) in a conspicuous place in the workplace. However, when hiring new employees, employers are still required to provide them with a copy of the ESA poster.
Director Approval for Excess Hours – Employers no longer need to seek the approval of the Director of Employment Standards to enter into written agreements with employees to exceed the maximum weekly hours worked of 48 hours. This change may make it easier for some employers to enter into these types of agreements where overtime is commonplace.
Averaging Overtime – Employers are no longer required to seek the approval of the Director of Employment Standards to enter into written agreements with their employees to average the hours an employee works over a specified period. . Employers are allowed to enter into these written agreements with employees without Director approval but the agreements must provide that the averaging period can be up to a maximum of 4 weeks, and the agreement itself must include a start date and an end date. For non-unionized employees, the end date may not be more than two years after the start date. The loosening of the government’s oversight on such arrangements may make employers more keen on entering into these written agreements.
These changes will affect those workplaces that pay overtime and have varying shift work with employees regularly working more than 48 hours a week.
Labour Relations Act, 1995
Bill 66 amended the LRA to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public bodies to be non-construction employers. Such an amendment ends the construction trade unions’ representation of those employees with respect to these employers. Furthermore, the change terminates the operation of any collective agreement to which these employers may be a party to as it applies to the construction industry. These changes have not been proclaimed in effect yet. However, the LRA does provide a procedural path for existing employers to opt out of the application of these new rules. Generally speaking the employer can opt of this classification, a trade union represents employees of the entity employed in the construction industry. The employer must file its election with the Ministry of Labour within three months after Bill 66 received Royal Assent, being July 3, 2019.
Pension Benefit Act
Bill 66 repealed section 80.4(1) of the PBA which restricted the ability of private sector and non-prescribed single employer pensions plans to transfer assets into a jointly sponsored plan through a transfer of assets and liabilities.
As always, we will keep on top of any further legislative changes affecting employers and will keep you in the loop.