News — 29 November 2017

By Dryden Observer Staff

Ontario’s Liberal government passed Bill 148 — the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act last week which implements a number of changes to the province’s labour laws. Below are some of the highlights from the legislation:

— Minimum wage rises from $11.60 an hour to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018 then to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019.

— Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees will be given the same pay as full-time employees for doing equal work. There are exemptions based on seniority and merit.

— Lower minimum wage rates for liquor servers, students under 18, hunting and fishing guides will also rise along with the general minimum wage.

— Once an employee works for a company for five years, they will be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation.

— Personal emergency leave no longer only applies to workers at companies with 50 or more employees. All workers will get 10 days per year, two of them paid.

— Victims of domestic or sexual violence, or parents of children who have experienced or are threatened with it, will get five days of paid leave and 17 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave.

— Employers will not be allowed to request a sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.

— Parents whose children die will get unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks. It was previously only offered to parents when a child’s death was related to a crime.

— Employers must pay three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with fewer than 48 hours notice, with weather-dependent work exempted.

— Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if the employer gives them less than four days notice.

— Employees on call must be paid three hours at their regular pay rate.

— Companies that misclassify workers as “independent contractors” instead of employees in order to skirt labour law obligations would be subject to fines.

— The maximum fine for employers who violate employment standards laws will be increased from $250, $500 and $1,000 for various violations to $350, $700 and $1,500. The government will publish the names of those who are fined.

— Ease restrictions on union certification and allow unions to access employee lists and certain contact information if the union can demonstrate it has the support of 20 per cent of employees.

— Makes it easier for home care and community services workers, people in the building services sector, and those who work through temp agencies to unionize.

— The maximum fines under the Labour Relations Act will increase from $2,000 for individuals and $25,000 for organizations to $5,000 and $100,000.

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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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