There have been many key (and sometimes debatable) changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA) over the course of the last year. It began by Ontario’s previous Liberal government introducing Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. Once elected to office, the Conservative government followed suit by repealing the majority of these changes with the adoption of Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act 2018. And, if recent events at the Ontario’s Legislative Assembly are any indication, the changes to Ontario’s employment and labour legislature aren’t over yet.
Last month, on December 6th, new changes to the statutory labour and employment system were introduced. Significant changes to a variety of laws are proposed with Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, a number of those changes affecting the ESA and the LRA.
Employment Standards Act, 2000
Under the current law, an employee and their employer can agree that the employee be scheduled to work more than 48-hours per week, but less than 60-hours per week. One of the changes proposed in Bill 66 is the repeal of 60-hour-per-week cap. If Bill 66 is entered into law, an employee and their employer will have the right to agree to a working schedule with no limits on hours. Furthermore, these agreements will no longer be subject to the approval of the Director of Employment Standards.
Also set out in the ESA are requirements for employees and employers to establish overtime averaging agreements. These agreements permit overtime pay (and entitlement to such pay) to be determined using an average of the employee’s worked hours. Bill 66 proposes two key changes regarding overtime-averaging.
- At present, there are no limits to the pay period used to determine the average. Bill 66 proposes that overtime be averaged over a period not to exceed 4-weeks.
- The Director of Employment Standards will no longer need to approve such agreements.
Lastly, employers will no longer be required to display a poster with ESA rights and entitlements and their regulations in the workplace.
Labour Relations Act, 1995
Proposed Bill 66 changes the definition of “non-construction employer” to exclude municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, university and public bodies. If passed, trade unions in the construction industry will no longer represent employees working for the previously mentioned non-construction employers. Any collective agreement currently in place with those specific employees will no longer be applicable.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the changes proposed by Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act – Comment below!