New Ontario legislation that covers independent contractor misclassification, equal pay for temps and a C$15 minimum wage and more received final approval, the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced Monday.
The law, “Fair Workplaces, Betters Jobs Act, 2017,” covers a wide range of employment areas and will take effect over time.
Part of the law already in effect are changes it makes to the Employment Standards Act of 2000 to expressly prohibit employers from misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
“This is intended to address cases where employers improperly treat their employees as if they are self-employed and not entitled to the protections of the [Employment Standards Act],” according to the ministry. “In the event of a dispute, the employer would be responsible for proving that the individual is not an employee.”
“This assumption that workers are employees unless the employer can prove otherwise is a step change,” said Fiona Coombe, director of legal and regulatory research, Staffing Industry Analysts. “Employers in those industries scheduled by the Ontario government for a workplace inspection “blitz” in the coming months should conduct an audit of their self-employed workforce to determine whether they have the evidence to justify the classification of those workers.”
Provisions of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act affecting use of temporary employees will come into effect April 1.
Under these provisions, employers must pay casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees the same rate as full-time, traditional employees who do the same job. This applies to temporary help agency employees doing the same job as traditional workers at the assigned company.
The law also raises the minimum wage to C$14 effective Jan. 1 and then to C$15 effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Other changes under the new law include allowing all employees to take up to 17 weeks of leave in a 52-week period to provide care or support to a critically ill adult family member, an expansion of parental leave up to 63 weeks, and a prohibition against employers requiring workers to wear high-heel shoes.
For more on the law, see this report by law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP.