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ESA & Labour Relations Act Changing Workplaces

The Ontario Government has commissioned a review of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995. Following public hearings and consultations, the “Changing Workplaces Review Special Advisors’ Interim Report” (the “Interim Report”) was issued on July 27, 2016.  A copy of the full interim report is available on the website of the Ministry of Labour at the following link:

https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/cwr_interim/index.php

Due to changes in such areas as the economy, the workplace, technology and globalization, there was pressure on the Ontario Government to make changes to both employment standards and labour relations. There has been an increase in precarious employment with employees working more than one job to make ends meet without benefits or a regular schedule. The unionization rate is also down, prompting a review of the current system to unionize. In contrast, many employers are trying to remain competitive and meet the ever increasing demands of consumers.

For the Employment Standards Act, there are a number of specific issues being considered including whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor, which has multiple implications such as benefits, vacation, overtime, public holiday pay and termination entitlements. The definition of employer will also be re-examined.  The final report will also consider some of the current groups of employees who are exempt from certain sections of the Employment Standards Act. The current practice of interns and trainees will be considered, in part due to the various complaints and media coverage over unpaid internships over the past few years.

For the changes to the Labour Relations Act, the final report will consider whether to change the current bargaining structure from vote based to card-based. The issue of whether to accept electronic membership evidence is also being considered, along with voting off-site, by phone or internet instead of in the workplace. Unions would also like access to employee lists prior to filing a certification application to try and alleviate the trend of many workplaces being spread out over geographic areas.

Submissions on all topics in the Interim Report, with the exception of personal emergency leave, are being accepted until October 14, 2016.  Your organization can provide submissions by email to: CWR.SpecialAdvisors@ontario.ca, by mail at: Changing Workplaces Review, ELCPB 400 University Ave., 12th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M7A 1T7 or by fax at: 416-326-7650.

Once the final report is released, Keyser Mason Ball, LLP will provide an update on the anticipated changes to both the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act.

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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.

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