United States: Proposed Changes To Ontario Employment And Labour Laws

Last Updated: June 29 2017
Article by Ned Levitt, Andrae J. Marrocco and Kathy Le

On May 23, 2017, the Government of Ontario's Special Advisors released their Final Report from the Changing Workplaces Review (the Final Report) which outlines 173 recommendations to amend the Employment Standards Act (Ontario) (the ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (Ontario) (the LRA). In response to the Final Report, on June 1, 2017, the Government introduced Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) which proposes certain amendments to the ESA and LRA.

While Bill 148 does not specifically target franchise systems (contrary to recommendations set out in the Final Report), franchisors and franchisees should be aware of the proposed changes that will generally apply to many employers in Ontario.

Employment Law Proposals

Proposed changes to the ESA include the following:

Minimum Wage Increases – The general minimum wage will be increased to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019. The special minimum wage rates for liquor servers, students under 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers would be maintained, and would increase by the same percentage as the general minimum wage.

Paid Vacation – Employees with at least five years of service will be entitled to three weeks paid vacation, an increase from two weeks under the current ESA. This would take effect January 1, 2018.

Paid Personal Emergency Leave – Under the current ESA, workplaces with 50 or more employees are required to provide personal emergency leave (PEL). Bill 148 proposes that all employers provide 10 days of PEL per year, two of which would be paid. Further, Bill 148 prohibits employers from requesting a doctor's sick note from an employee taking PEL and expands the reasons for employees being entitled to take PEL. This would take effect January 1, 2018.

Overtime Pay – Employees who hold more than one position with an employer must be paid at the rate for the position they are working during any overtime period.

Equal Pay for Equal Work – Employers will be required to pay casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees the full-time employee rate when performing the same job for the same employer. Exceptions include where a wage difference is based on a seniority system, a merit system, systems that determine pay by quantity or quality of production, or other factors (however, sex and employment status do not qualify as exceptions). Employees will be entitled to request a review of their wages and the employer will be required to respond.

Similarly, temporary help agency (THA) employees (assignment workers) will be paid at the same rate as permanent employees of the THA client when performing the same job and such assignment workers would be entitled to request a review of their wages.

These changes would come into effect April 1, 2018.

THAs will be required to provide assignment workers with at least one week's notice when an assignment scheduled to last longer than three months will be terminated early. If less than one week's notice is given, the assignment work must be paid for the difference, unless the assignment employee is offered at least one week's worth of reasonable work during the notice period.

Scheduling – Bill 148 proposes the following changes with respect to scheduling:

  • Employees will be entitled to request schedule or location changes after having been employed for three months.
  • Employees who regularly work more than three hours per day, but upon reporting to work are given less than three hours, must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay.
  • Employees can refuse to accept shifts if their employer asks them to work with less than four days' notice.
  • If an employer cancels a shift within 48 hours of its start, employees must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay.
  • When employees are "on-call" and not called in to work, the employer must pay them three hours at their regular rate of pay. This would be required for each 24-hour period that employees are on-call.
  • These changes would take effect January 1, 2019.

Employee Misclassification – Employers that misclassify their employees could be subject to penalties including prosecution, public disclosure of convictions and monetary penalties. Such measures are intended to address cases where employers improperly classify their employees as independent contractors and thus preclude them from being entitled to the protections under the ESA. In the event of a dispute, the employer will have the burden of proving that the individual is not an employee. These provisions would take effect when Bill 148 becomes law.

Joint Liability – Bill 148 proposes to remove proof of "intent or effect" to defeat the purpose of the ESA when determining whether related businesses can be treated as one employer and held jointly and severally liable for monies owing under the ESA. These provisions would take effect January 1, 2018.

Other proposed amendments to the ESA would impact family medical leave, leave for the death or disappearance of a child, payments to employees, employee contact when a complaint has been filed under the ESA, interest on unpaid wages, collections, and penalties for non-compliance of the ESA.

Labour Law Proposals

Proposed changes to the LRA will affect union certification rules in order to more easily facilitate unionization and will enable the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the OLRB) to change existing bargaining units.

Union Certification – Bill 148 proposes the following in respect of union certification:

  • establishing card-based union certification for the THA industry, the building services industry and home care and community services industry;
  • allowing unions to access employee lists and certain contact information, provided the union can demonstrate that it has already achieved the support of 20% of employees involved;
  • empowering the OLRB to conduct votes outside the workplace, including electronically and by telephone;
  • eliminating certain conditions for remedial union certification, allowing unions to more easily certify when an employer engages in misconduct that contravenes the LRA;
  • making access to first contract arbitration easier, and also add an intensive mediation component to the process before dealing with displacement and decertification applications; and
  • empowering the OLRB to authorize Labour Relations Officers to give directions relating to the voting process and voting arrangements in order to help assure the neutrality of the voting process.

These changes would come into effect six months after Bill 148 becomes law.

Structure of Bargaining Units – Bill 148 allows the OLRB to change the structure of bargaining units within a single employer, where the existing bargaining units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining, and to consolidate newly certified bargaining units with other existing bargaining units under a single employer, where those units are represented by the same union. Importantly, this proposal could impact multi-unit franchisees and franchisors with multiple corporate stores in close geographic proximity.

Additional amendments to the LRA would impact return-to-work rights and procedures, just cause protection in the period between certification and conclusion of a first contract, and during the period between the date the employees are in a legal strike or lock-out position and the new collective agreement, and fines and penalties under the LRA.

All proposals to the LRA would come into effect six months after Bill 148 becomes law.

The proposed amendments to the ESA and LRA would translate to increased operational and compliance costs for employers and more easily facilitate certification of unions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ned Levitt
Andrae J. Marrocco
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.