Ontario Ministry of Labour Kevin Flynn released the Final Report of The Changing Workplaces Review yesterday.
This 419-page report contains 173 recommendations that, if implemented, could have far-reaching implications on Ontario workplaces. In terms of changes to basic employment standards, some of the highlights of the recommendations include:
- Part-time, casual, temporary, seasonal and contract employees be paid at least as much as comparable full-time employees with the same employer.
- Elimination of both student minimum wage and liquor servers minimum wage.
- Option for obtaining group consent to work overtime, or to other hours of work rules, via a secret ballot vote on a sectoral basis. Result of vote would generally be binding on all group employees.
- Eliminate requirement of Ministry of Labour consent for employees to work between 48 to 60 hours in a workweek. Consent for working above 60 hours in a workweek to remain.
- Permit overtime averaging in limited circumstances only; namely, where doing so allows for a compressed workweek, continental shift or other flexibilities in employee scheduling desired by employees, or provides for employer scheduling requirements where the total number of hours worked would not exceed the overtime threshold during the averaging period.
- Process for employees to request changes to working hours (increases, decreases or flexible work schedule) and/or work location after 1 year of employment, without fear of reprisal or retaliation.
- Requirement to pay 3 hours at the employee’s regular wage rate when the 3-Hour Rule applies (i.e. when an employee who regularly works more than 3 hours a day is required to report to work but works less than 3 hours). The 3-Hour Rule currently requires payment of 3 hours only at minimum wage rate.
- All employees to be entitled to personal emergency leave by removing current 50-employee threshold. Decrease annual entitlement to 7 days (excluding bereavement leave days). Expand permitted use of personal emergency leave to include domestic violence situations.
- Separate bereavement leave entitlement of 3 unpaid days for each death of any prescribed family member. No annual restriction.
- Requirement for employers to pay for doctor’s notes if required by the employer.
- Family medical leave extended to 26-weeks in any 52-week period.
- Crime-related child death and disappearance leave expanded to allow for up to 104 weeks of leave in the event of any death of a child or any crime-related disappearance of a child.
- Increase vacation time to 3 weeks and vacation pay to 6% of earned wages, after completing 5 years of employment with the same employer.
The news isn’t all bad for employers. There were a number of anticipated changes that are, in fact, not being recommended by the Report. These include both mandatory paid sick days and reducing the overtime threshold to 40 hours. Also important to note is that there is no mention of any recommended increase to parental leave to coincide with the newly extended EI parental benefits.
Once again, these are only recommendations. We understand that the provincial government has reviewed these recommendations and will be announcing their formal response within the next week. We will keep you posted as more developments occur.
Siskinds’ Labour & Employment group is continuing to review the Final Report and will provide updates on developments as they occur. For more information on the Final Report’s overall changes to the ESA and the LRA, please see Beth Traynor and Chris Sinal’s blogs here and here, respectively.