Ontario’s changing workplace: New labour law rules and regulations

Are you a business owner looking for help with understanding Ontario’s new labour legislation? Do you know what steps to take to ensure that you meet your obligations as an employer? We can guide you through these changes in your workplace.

What is the Employment Standards Act (ESA)?

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) states the minimum standards of employment for workers in Ontario, along with the workplace rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. The Act covers most workers in Ontario, with several industry exemptions.

The ESA helps employers understand what is legal when operating a business. It provides minimum employment standards such as hours of work, leaves of absence, minimum wage, etc.

New Ontario Labour Laws

On October 26, 2023, Ontario’s Bill 79, the Working for Workers’ Act, 2023 (the Act), received Royal Assent. This Act introduced amendments to various pieces of legislation, including:

  • The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
  • Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA)
  • The Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act, and
  • The Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006.

Amendments to the ESA

Group Terminations

The Act has expanded the definition of “establishment of the employer” to include the private residence of a worker. This ensures remote employees receive the same termination entitlements available to on-site staff.

Termination notice
Employers are now also required to ensure that fully remote employees receive a copy of Form 1 (through which employers provide notice of group termination to the Ontario Director of Employment Standards) and are notified of any group termination that affects them.

Reservist Leave
An employee is also entitled to reservist leave if they are in treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation for a physical or mental health illness, injury, or medical emergency that resulted from their participation in an operation, emergency, or training activity.

The continuous employment period to qualify for reservist leave has been reduced to 2 consecutive months of service from the previous 3-month period.

Protection for Foreign Nationals and Recruiter License Requirements

For Recruiters and Temporary Help Agencies (THAs) applying for a license or a license renewal, the Act increases licensing requirements.

Under the EPFNA, employers and recruiters (and contracted third parties) are not allowed to take possession of or retain the property of a foreign national, such as their passport or work permit. The Act significantly increases the maximum fines for individuals and corporations convicted of this prohibition.

What is the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)?

The OLRB is a quasi-judicial tribunal that conducts hearings. It has its own distinct procedure rules.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) reviews the following ESA Orders:

  • Wage Compensation Orders
  • Reprisal Remedies
  • Wage Compensation Orders against Directors of Employer Corporation
  • Compliance Orders
  • Orders involving temporary help agencies.

Are you compliant with the latest legislation? Get free expert support today!

Non-compliance with Ontario labour laws could lead to fines, and penalties and expose your business to litigation. If you need support implementing the new ESA amendments, our HR experts are here for you. Call us today at 1-888-219-8767.