New Year, Same
ONTARIO REVERSES BILL 148’S SWEEPING EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES
By Dylan Augruso vectorknight/123RF
For Ontario’s government and its lawmakers, 2018 was a year
full of discussion, debate, lobbying and eventually re-writing
of Ontario’s employment laws. However, the final result was
not very much change at all.
On June 1, 2017, following two years of consultation, Ontario’s
Liberal Government unveiled the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs
Act, 2017 (Bill 148), which introduced some of the widest-sweeping
changes to Ontario’s employment legislation in the
province’s history. The changes did not last long; less than one
year after Bill 148 was passed, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive
Conservative (PC) Government tabled the Making Ontario
Open for Business Act (Bill 47), which repealed many amend-ments
to Ontario’s employment legislation made by Bill 148. In
total, Bill 47 contains more than 200 provisions affecting nine
different pieces of legislation.
Bill 47 represented a major shift for employers from the changes
expected under Bill 148. Since the 2018 election, savvy employment
lawyers advised employers and their human resources profession-als
to hold off on making major employment and human resources
changes in preparation for the Bill 148 amendments set to take
place in 2019.
After months of employing a “wait and see” approach before
making any drastic changes to their policies, employers received
some clarity (for the next four years, at least) when Bill 47 received
Royal Assent in late November 2018. Bill 47’s changes eliminated
most of the proposed amendments to the Employment Standards
Act (ESA), which were set to come into effect on Jan.1, 2019.
Employers and their staff should prepare their policies to reflect
changes under Bill 47. In many cases, reverting to an employer’s
pre-Bill 148 policy will be sufficient.
Unfortunately, for those proactive employers who adjusted their
policies in preparation for Bill 148, not all changes are reversible.
For example, employers who have already adjusted permanent
wages to balance out the increase in minimum wage (in prepa-ration
for the enforcement of Bill 148), cannot simply roll back
wages already increased.
UNDER BILL 148, EMPLOYERS
WERE REQUIRED TO PAY PART
TIME, CASUAL, TEMPORARY
AND ASSIGNMENT EMPLOYEES
AT THE SAME RATE AS
A FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE
CONDUCTING THE SAME WORK.
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ FEBRUARY 2019 ❚ 19