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.

Two recent laws – Working for Workers Act 2021 (Bill 27) and Working for Workers Act 2022 (Bill 88) – made major amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA).

These new laws were introduced to better protect workers in Ontario and place new duties on employers. If your business is covered by the Ontario ESA, you must take note of the amendments and update your contracts and company policies accordingly.

Bill 27, Working for Workers Act 2021

Bill 27, Working for Workers Act 2021, received Royal Assent on December 2, 2021, and brought in the following key changes:

Right to disconnect

Provincially regulated Ontario employers with 25 or more employees on January 1st of any year must implement a right-to-disconnect policy at their workplace.

Prohibiting non-compete clauses in work contracts

Non-compete agreements in contracts have been banned for most employees, with some exceptions.

Licensing requirements for recruiters and temporary help agencies

Besides introducing licensing requirements for temporary help agencies and recruiters, the Act bans employers from intentionally using the services of an unlicensed temporary help agency or recruiter.

Removing barriers for internationally trained professionals

The Act lifted Canadian work experience requirements for professional registration and licensing unless an exemption is granted.

Washroom access for truck drivers and delivery workers

Couriers, truck drivers, and people who deliver food now have the right to washroom access at the businesses where they deliver or pick up delivery items.

WSIB financial relief for businesses

The Act allows for a portion of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s current reserve funds to be distributed to safe employers.

Bill 88, Working for Workers Act, 2022

Key amendments to the Ontario ESA and the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act include:

Electronic monitoring policy

As of October 11, 2022, provincially regulated employers who employ 25 or more employees on January 1 of any year must have a written policy on electronic monitoring in place by March 1 of that year.

Business and information technology consultants

The Act clarifies who is outside the scope of the legislation – namely certain business consultants and IT consultants. These new exemptions came into force on January 1, 2023.

Reservist leave

Employees participating in Canadian Armed Forces military skills training are now also eligible for the job-protected Reservist Leave. This amendment came into effect on April 11, 2022.

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Increased fines

Bill 88 increased fines for certain convictions. It also raised the limitation period for instituting a prosecution under the OHSA from one year to two years. These provisions came into effect on July 1, 2022.

Creation of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022 (DPWRA)

The Working for Workers Act, 2022 also increased rights for Ontario workers through the enactment of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022. The DPWRA will come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, which has not yet been established.

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

Non-compliance with the Employment Standards Act 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 1-833-247-3650.