Recent Ontario government legislation introduced the proposed increase of minimum wage up to $15 an hour by January 1st 2019, but what other areas of employment are being looked at with Bill 148?
Bill 148 or The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, was recently read by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs over the summer, below are some of the key points from this Bill.
Equal Pay - Regardless of Type of Employment
All employees doing the same work are to be paid the same rate of pay regardless of type of employment (Eg. part-time, full-time, casual, seasonal or temporary). Although rate of pay is not clearly defined in the bill, it would likely mean same wage but would not factor in benefits, pension, vacation, entitlements, etc. Exceptions are made for wage differences based on: seniority, performance/merit based, pay determined by quality/quantity of production, etc.
Employers cannot reduce any current rate of pay to meet this new legislation, and for new employees a probationary rate is not allowed. These obligations come into force April 2018.
Equal Pay for Temporary Help Agency Workers
Similar to the above, temporary help agency (THA) workers (assignment workers) are required to be paid the same rate of pay as permanent employees of the THA client when:
● They perform the same work in the same environment
● Their performance requires the same effort, skills and level of responsibility
● Their work is done under similar conditions
Rate of pay does not factor in benefits, pension, vacation, entitlements, etc. As above, employers cannot reduce any current rate of pay to meet this, and provisions come into effect in April 2018.
Vacation Leave and Vacation Pay
Paid vacation will be increased to 3 weeks, with 6% vacation pay after 5 continuous years of service with an employer, this applies to vacation entitlement years that end on or after December 31st 2017. Changes will take effect January 1st 2018.
The calculation of public holiday pay = total regular wages in pay period / # days worked in pay period, as of January 1st 2018.
If an employee works on a public holiday payment would be:
● Public holiday pay plus premium pay for any hours worked
● Bill 148 removes the option to provide the employee with a substitute day
New substitution rules when a public holiday falls on employee’s day off or employee is on vacation:
● Bill 148 requires a substitute day either be the last work day prior to the holiday, or the 1st work day after it (this changes from 3 months after the holiday or up to a year if the employee and employer agree).
● Employee and employer can still agree for public holiday pay with no substitute day given
Impact of Pay and Benefits Changes
● Increased overheads and cost of business
● Implications for hiring
● Current staff issues with new pay system
● Implications for THAs
● Significant increase in public holiday pay for part time employees
Changes to Scheduling Rules
After 3 months employment, employees have the right to request location or schedule changes without reprisal. Employees have the right to refuse a shift if they are given less than 96 hours’ notice. If a shift is cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice, the employee must be paid 3 hours regular rate pay.
Employees who regularly work more than 3 hours per day, but are given less than 3 hours when they report to work, must be paid 3 hours at their regular rate of pay.
When an employee is on-call, and is not called into work or is called in for less than 3 hours, they must be paid 3 hours regular rate pay for every 24 hour on call window.
All changes to scheduling come into force January 2019.
Personal Emergency Leave (PEL)
All employees entitled to 10 PEL days regardless of employer size, first two days paid, the remaining 8 unpaid. No minimum employment required, employer can request evidence defined as ‘reasonable in the circumstances’ to confirm the request.
Leaves of Personal Absence Provisions
Leave to provide support and care to a family member in a critical state increased from 8 weeks in a 28 week period, to 27 weeks in 52 week period, no minimum employment required.
Unpaid leave for crime-related child disappearance or death, employees who have been employed for a minimum of 6 months are entitled to a single period of unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks.
All leave provision changes come into effect January 2018.
Penalties for Misclassification of Employees
Employers prohibited from misclassifying employees as “independent contractors”, these employers could be subject to penalties including prosecution, public disclosure of a conviction and monetary penalties. In the event of a dispute, the employer will have to prove the individual in question is not an employee (Reverse Onus).
This will become effective upon Royal Assent.
Temporary Help Agency (THA) Workers - Notice of Termination
THA required to give workers at least one week’s notice when an assignment over three months is terminated early. If less is given, the employee must be paid the difference or offered at least one week’s worth of reasonable work during this period.
To take effect January 2018.
If you have any questions about Bill 148, or more specifically how it impacts your management of contingent workers, give us a call to discuss your situation.