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New Year, New Employment Laws

By January 3, 2019November 5th, 2019Employment Law

Welcome to 2019! With the new year, the new employment laws we have been telling you about are now in effect. Read this to review all of the most recent changes to the law.

On November 22, 2017, the Ontario Government passed Bill 148 (called the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act). Just about one year later, the new Ontario government passed Bill 47 (called the Making Ontario Open for Business Act).

Essentially, Bill 47 undid much (but not all) of what Bill 148 did.  So what are the changes as of January 1, 2019?

No Minimum Wage Increase

Minimum Wage was set to increase to $15.00 per hour on New Year’s Day.  But that planned increase is delayed until October 1, 2020. Future increases will still be tied to inflation, but that won’t kick in until 2021.

Elimination of PEL & Introduction of New Leaves

Bill 148 introduced “Personal Emergency Leave” or PEL which many dentists had many questions about. PEL was 2 paid sick days and 8 unpaid sick days.

The current law now gets rid of PEL and replaces it with 3 separate and unpaid leaves: Sick Leave, Family Responsibility Leave, and Bereavement Leave:

  • Sick Leave is capped at 3 unpaid days.
  • Family Responsibility Leave is capped at 3 unpaid days.
  • Bereavement Leave is capped at 2 unpaid days, and
  • The total number of days is capped per calendar year.

Employees cannot use Sick Leave days for Bereavement Days as before.  So, dental staff who have no need for sick leave can’t take them under the ESA.

As well, Dentists are permitted to once again ask for a doctor’s note as evidence that the employee was entitled to sick leave.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Gone

We told many dentists (and updated many policy manuals) about Equal Pay for Equal Work., where temporary / seasonal workers were entitled to be paid the same wage rate as full-time employees when performing “substantially the same” job (unless the dentist used a seniority system, a merit system, quantity/quality of production, or some other “objective factor” to differentiate the pay)

That is now entirely off the books and no longer applies to any employee in Ontario.

Small Change to Employee vs. Contractor Debate

The old law said that during an ESA audit or investigation, if an employer or Principal claimed that a worker was not actually an employee, but was an independent contractor, then the burden of proof that the worker was not an employee was on the employer/Principal. This meant that an unsupported claim without evidence wouldn’t be “up to snuff”. That obligation is now removed.

Introduction of Three-Hour Rule

There has always been a “three-hour rule” in Ontario regarding scheduling.  It isn’t new.  However, it was clarified in the new law, and it now says this:

21.2 (1) If an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to present himself or herself for work but works less than three hours, despite being available to work longer, the employer shall pay the employee wages for three hours, equal to the greater of the following:

 1. The sum of,
i. the amount the employee earned for the time worked, and

ii. wages equal to the employee’s regular rate for the remainder of the time.

2. Wages equal to the employee’s regular rate for three hours of work.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the employer is unable to provide work for the employee because of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond the employer’s control that result in the stopping of work.

Things That Haven’t Changed

Certain parts of Bill 148 will remain, being:

  • Increase of minimum vacation to 3 weeks after completing 5 years of service
  • Greater Pregnancy Leave entitlement
  • New Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave remains.

And on top of all of this, there is already a new draft law (called Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018) that proposes to make further changes to employment and labour laws in Ontario.

If you have any questions about the new law, give usa call! 416-443-9280.

DMC