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ESA LRA Changes in 2019

On May 23rd, the Ontario government released the Final Report from the Changing Workplaces Review, an independent review of the employment landscape.  The Final Report proposed 173 amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (“LRA”), including changes to basic employment standards, increased bargaining rights for certain classes of workers, increased fines for contravention, and stronger enforcement mechanisms.

On June 1st, the government introduced Bill 148: The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which adopts many of the broad-ranging changes recommended in the Final Report.  The significant changes to the ESA and LRA include the following:

Minimum Wage:

  • Increased to $14.00/hour as of January 1, 2018, and $15.00/hour as of January 1, 2019. From October 2019 onwards, the minimum wage increase will be tied to the rate of inflation.  
  • For students, the increases will be to $13.15 in 2018, and $14.10 in 2019.

Overtime: For employees who work multiple positions with the same employer, they will be paid the overtime rate for the position they are working in during the overtime hours.

Vacation: Employees with 5 years’ service are entitled to at least 3 weeks’ paid vacation per annum.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers must be paid the same rate as full-time employees when performing the same job.


  • Employees have the right to request schedule or work location changes without reprisal.  The request can be granted or refused with reasons provided by employers.
  • Employees must be paid for a minimum of 3 hours at their regular rate for: shifts that are less than 3 hours’ long, for being on-call, and when a shift is cancelled with less than 2 days’ notice.
  • Employees can refuse to work a shift they were not previously scheduled for if they receive less than 4 days’ notice.

Leaves of Absence:
Personal Emergency Leave:

  • 2 of the 10 annual personal emergency days must be paid.  All employees are entitled to this regardless of the size of the workplace.
  • Employers cannot request a sick note for employees taking personal emergency leave days.
  • Family Medical Leave: Increased to 27 weeks in a 52-week period.
  • New unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks when a child dies or disappears in a crime-related incident.

Temporary Help Agencies: Employees must receive 1 week’s notice (or pay in lieu of notice) if an assignment that is expected to last for at least 3 months is terminated early, unless another assignment of at least 1 week is offered.

Fines & Enforcement:

  • Increased fines if employers misclassify employees as independent contractors.
  • Penalties for violations will increase and the Director of Employment Standards will be allowed to publish the names of individuals who have been issued a penalty.
  • Employees no longer have to show that they attempted to resolve their issue directly with their employer before proceeding with an ESA complaint.

Union Certification:

  • Temporary help agency, building service sector, and home care and community services sector employees will be eligible to unionize through the card-based certification process.
  • It will be easier for the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) to order remedial certification for employer misconduct.
  • Easier access to first contract arbitration, and adding an intensive mediation element.
  • Employers must provide unions with employee lists and employee contact information if unions can demonstrate 20% union support.
  • The OLRB can conduct votes outside the workplace, including allowing electronic and telephone voting.

Successor Rights: These rights will extend to the rendering of building services contracts, and to other publicly-funded contracted services.

Structure of Bargaining Units:

  •  The OLRB will have the power to restructure existing bargaining units within a single employer’s business where the existing units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining.
  • The OLRB will have the power to consolidate new bargaining units with existing units.

Just Cause: Protection for just cause discipline and termination will be extended to the periods following: certification and the parties being in a legal strike/lockout position.

It is uncertain at this time when the Bill will become law.  More information will be provided in the coming months.

If you would like to discuss your obligations under AODA, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Nav Bhandal
Labour and Employment Law Group
(905) 276-0408

This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice on their specific situations.

If you have questions, please reach out

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