Important Upcoming Changes to the Ontario Workplace

On November 27, 2017, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 received royal assent and became Law in Ontario. Set out below are some of the most important changes to Ontario’s workplaces.

Minimum Wage On January 1, 2018, the general minimum wage will increase from $11.60/hour to $14.00/hour. On January 1, 2019, the general minimum wage will increase again to $15.00/hour.For students who are under 18 years old, the minimum wage is changing in 2018 to $13.15/hour and then $14.00/hour in 2019. For bartenders and other liquor servers, the changes likewise will be $12.20/hour, then $13.05/hour.

After the minimum wage increases come into effect, the Act contemplates automatic increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

Employee vs Independent Contractor There is now a presumption that a worker is an employee. The employer bears the onus of proving otherwise. This has the effect of significantly increasing the risk to employers who wish to treat workers as independent contractors.
Record Keeping Employers are now required to keep more onerous records for a longer period of time. Employment records must be kept for five (5) years and must include:  name, address, start date, dates and hours worked, on-call schedules, changes to schedules and cancelled shifts, holidays, leave documentation, vacation pay/time and more.
Substitute Public Holidays Where an employer provides employees with a substitute day off and requires them to work on a public holidays the employer must set out to the employee in writing: (1) the public holiday which the employee is to work; (2) the date that is being substituted; and (3) the date when notice is being given. These records must be kept in accordance with the new record keeping requirements.
Vacation Employees with 5 or more years of service are now entitled to paid vacation of 3 weeks or 3 weeks of unpaid vacation with 6% vacation pay.
Scheduling Changes Employees who (a) work less than three hours, (b) are on call but not called, or (c) have shift work cancelled on less than 48-hours notice, are entitled to a minimum of 3 hours pay.Employees have the right to refuse requests to work or be on call if given less than 96 hours notice.

Employees are now entitled to request changes in their schedules and employers are required to discuss requests with employees and either grant them or provide reasons for denial. While employers are not obligated to grant requests they must be open with their reasons for denial.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are entitled to be paid at the same rate as full time employees for performing the same or similar work. Different rates are acceptable when pay is based on a seniority, merit, productivity system, or some other non-discriminatory factor.Where an employee believes he is improperly paid a lesser rate, he can request a review. The employer must adjust his wage or provide written reasons for why the request is being denied. Again, these records must be kept in accordance with the new record keeping requirements.
Multiple Employers Where an employee alleges that he was working for two or more companies, that employee no longer has to prove that the intent of the arrangement was to defeat any provision of the Employment Standards Act.
Multiple Hourly Wages Where an employee performs services for a company at different hourly rates, the calculation of overtime pay has changed from being based on a blended hourly rate to being based on the rate of the work actually being performed.
Temp Workers Temporary workers are now entitled to 1 week notice or pay-in-lieu thereof if an assignment of more than 3 months is terminated before its estimated term.
Leave Personal Emergency Leave – All employers must provide a minimum of 2 paid personal emergency leave days and 10 unpaid days for all employees who have worked at least 1 week. Employers are entitled to evidence to substantiate reasons but cannot require a medicate certificate from a health practitioner.Pregnancy Leave – Pregnancy leave for miscarriage or stillbirths increased from 6 to 12 weeks.

Parental Leave – Parents are entitled to 61 weeks parental leave if they took pregnancy leave and 63 weeks if they did not, beginning no later than 78 weeks after the child is born (or comes into the employee’s custody).

Family Medical Leave – Family Medical Leave increased from 8 weeks to 28 weeks.

Critical Illness Leave – Employees are entitled to 37 weeks Critical Illness Leave to care for a child or 17 weeks to provide care for a critically ill adult relative.

Child Death Leave – An employee is entitled to 104 weeks leave where an employee’s child has passed away for any reason.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave – Where an employee or their child is threatened with or experiences domestic or sexual violence, they are entitled to 15 days leave (5 of which must be paid), if leave is needed to seek medical attention or obtain other related social, medical or legal assistance.

If you have any questions concerning the impact of these changes please do not hesitate to contact Justin W. Anisman.

Contact Justin W. Anisman

To contact Justin W. Anisman, the author of this blog, about any employment law related questions or issues you may be facing, call 416-304-7005 or email him at

Justin W. Anisman is an Employment Lawyer at the Toronto law firm Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP. Justin advises both companies and individuals in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal, human rights and discrimination.

The publications made on this website are provided and intended for general introductory information purposes only. They do not constitute legal or other professional advice, or an opinion of any kind. Speak to a professional before making decisions about your own particular circumstances.

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