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New Employment Laws Coming January 1

By November 22, 2018November 5th, 2019Employment Law

On November 21, a new piece of legislation, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, received royal assent in the Ontario Legislature and has officially become law in Ontario.

As of January 1, 2019, we will again see sweeping changes to Ontario’s employment laws – this time the scales seem to be tipping back in favour of the employer.

The Changes At a Glance

Minimum Wage

  • $14 minimum wage kept until 2020 (where it will only rise with inflation after that time)

Public Holiday Pay

  • Repealing the averaging public holiday pay formula and returning to the previous prorating public holiday pay formula
  • Basically, the calculation is (All regular wages + vacation pay earned in the last 4 weeks before the holiday) divided by 20.

Three-Hour Rule

  • Rule remains clarified to mean that an employee must be paid at least three hours of their normal rate of pay (not three hours of minimum wage)
  • The rule does not apply if there was an instance of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond the employer’s control that result in the stopping of work.

Personal Emergency Leave

  • Replacing annual personal emergency leave with the following:
    • 3 days for Sick Leave
    • 2 days for Bereavement Leave, and
    • 3 days for Family Responsibility
  • Employers can now again ask for medical notes for these sick days
  • None of these days are paid – they are all unpaid.
  • Employees must still request that they will be taking the leave, or tell the employer that they are taking it as soon as possible.
  • Employers can still ask for all evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances.
  • If an employee takes any of these leaves and they have the same leave in their employment contract, it counts as this Personal Emergency Leave.
  • A half-day means a full-day under this law.


  • Cancelling all the scheduling provisions that were to start January 1, 2019, including:
    • Right to request schedule changes
    • On-call pay, shift cancellation pay
    • Record-keeping requirements reverted


  • Cancelling the requirement for employers to prove individuals are not employees (the “reverse onus”) where there is a dispute over whether the individual is an employee or a contractor.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

  • Cancelling the equal pay for equal work on the basis of employment status (part-time, casual, and temporary) and assignment employee status (temporary help agency status).

Labour Relations

  • The government has also proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act which governs unionized workplaces.


  • The government is returning to the previous administrative penalties for contraventions of the ESA by decreasing the maximum penalties from $350/$700/$1500 to $250/$500/$1000, respectively.


What Isn’t Changing

“Three-Hour Rule”

  • The new rule will continue to take effect as scheduled on January 1, 2019. This rule stipulates that if an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to report to work, but works less than three hours, the employee will be paid for three hours.

Increase to Paid Vacation

  • Employees will continue to be entitled to three (3) weeks’ vacation after five (5) years of service.

Domestic and Sexual Violence Leave

  • The current paid leave provisions dealing with domestic and sexual violence will be maintained.

Other Miscellaneous Leaves

  • The enhancements made to Parental Leave, Pregnancy Leave, Critical Illness Leave and Family Medical Leave will remain intact.


BONUS – Pay Transparency

  • Bill 57, the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 from the Ontario Legislature is currently being debated and is at second reading. If it is passed (and it likely will be), the law delay the implementation of the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 from January 1, 2019 to TBD. We will keep you posted on that law as well.
The Content of this post is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal, financial, tax, or other professional advice of any kind. You are advised to contact DMC (or other counsel) to seek specific legal advice concerning your individual situation.