Bill 149 Becomes Law: New Requirements For Employers In Ontario

On March 21, 2024, the Government of Ontario announced that it had passed Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2024 which expands on the protections for workers introduced...
Canada Employment and HR
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On March 21, 2024, the Government of Ontario announced that it had passed Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2024which expands on the protections for workers introduced in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Bill 149 makes a series of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Digital Platform Workers' Rights Act, 2022, the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006, and theWorkplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Bill 149's Amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA")

The following is a summary of the key changes to the ESAas a result of Bill 149.

Changes introduced that are currently in force:

  • Employers are prohibited from withholding or deducting an employee's wages as a result of a customer at a restaurant, gas station, or other establishment failing to pay for the goods and services at the employer's establishment.
  • Individuals engaged in training, including during a trial period, will now be included in the definition of "employee" under the ESA and entitled to compensation for any trial periods worked.

Changes coming into effect on June 21, 2024:

  • Employers will be required to pay an employee's tips or other gratuities in one of the following methods: cash, cheque (payable to only the employee), or direct deposit (provided the account is selected by the employee, is in their name and they are the only person with access to it).

If the payment is made by cash or cheque, the employer is required to ensure that it is given to the employee at their workplace, or another place agreed to by the employee.

  • If the employer has a tip-sharing policy, the employer must post their policy on tips and gratuity sharing in at least one conspicuous place in the workplace and retain a copy of the policy for three years after the policy ceases to be in effect.
  • If vacation pay is not paid by way of lump sum before the employee begins their vacation, an agreement between the employer and employee must set out the alternate arrangement for vacation pay.

For example, an agreement is needed if vacation pay is paid on each paycheque regardless of when the employee takes their vacation.

Changes not currently in force that will take effect on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor:

  • Employers will be required to include expected salary ranges in publicly advertised job postings. The term "publicly advertised job posting" will be defined in the regulations. Other provinces like British Colombia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have already passed legislation requiring similar disclosures of expected pay ranges on all publicly advertised job postings.
  • Employers will be prohibited from including any requirements related to Canadian experience in publicly advertised job postings.
  • Employers will be required to retain copies of all publicly advertised job postings for three years after access to the postings by the general public have been removed.
  • Employers will be required to disclose their use of artificial intelligence in hiring processes to "screen, assess or select applicants" for a position. The term "artificial intelligence" will be defined in the regulations and exceptions to this requirement may also be prescribed.

Further Statutory Amendments made by Bill 149

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

The amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 are not currently in forceand will take effect on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

When in force, Bill 149 will provide greater protections to injured workers by:

  • Allowing for additional "super indexing" increases to WSIB benefits above the annual rate of inflation and
  • Improving primary-site esophageal cancer coverage for firefighters and fire investigators by lowering the requirement of employment for coverage from 25 to 15 years.

Digital Platform Workers' Rights Act, 2022

The amendments provide certain limits on recurring pay periods and pay days (as may be prescribed in the regulations) and provide that further regulations may be prescribed to determine compliance with minimum wage requirements.

Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006

The amendments are not currently in forceand will take effect on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor. The amendments indicate that prescribed requirements must be met to determine whether a regulated profession assesses qualifications in a way that is transparent, objective, impartial and fair. If a third party is making such assessments, the regulated profession must take reasonable measures to ensure that the assessments are made in a way that is transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

Prepare for Future Changes

The Ontario Government has also announced that further changes may be in store for Employers based on current consultations and analysis that are underway on:

  • ending the use of non- disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the settlement of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence cases.
  • ·options to create new job-protected leaves for critical illnesses "to match the 26-week federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits."

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.

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