Since its election last year, Ontario's conservative government has undertaken a number of revisions to the province's labour and employment laws. The most recent revisions were announced with the tabling of Bill 66: Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act ("Bill 66"), which passed 3rd Reading on April 2, 2019 and then received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.
We previously discussed the changes contemplated in Bill 66: More Changes To Employment and Labour Legislation. As of April 3, 2018, two important changes have come into force with respect to the Employment Standards Act, 2000:
- Overtime hours: The previous 60 hours per week cap on overtime has been eliminated. Employees and their employers can now agree to a work schedule including any number of hours in a week, and without requiring the approval of the Director of Employment Standards.
- Overtime-averaging agreements: Overtime-averaging agreements allow overtime pay entitlements to be determined by using an average of an employee's work hours over a specific period. Prior to the coming into force of Bill 66, that period of time was not limited. Now, however, the overtime-averaging period must not exceed four weeks.
Additionally, the Director of Employment Standards will no longer need to approve overtime-averaging agreements between an employee and their employer.
Bill 66 has also amended the Labour Relations Act, 1995 ("LRA"). The definition of "non-construction employers" has been expanded to include a number of entities. Now the following entities are deemed to be "non-construction employers" under the LRA:
- A municipality.
- A local board as defined in subsection 1 (1) of the Municipal Act, 2001 or in subsection 3 (1) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
- A local housing corporation as defined in section 24 of the Housing Services Act, 2011.
- A corporation established under section 203 of the Municipal Act, 2001 or under section 148 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
- A district social services administration board established under the District Social Services Administration Boards Act.
- A school board within the meaning of the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014.
- A hospital within the meaning of the Public Hospitals Act.
- A college established under the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act, 2002.
- A university in Ontario that receives regular direct operating funding from the Government and the university's affiliates and federates.
- A public body within the meaning of the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006.
The effect of the new definition of "non-construction employer" is that a trade union will no longer represent employees working for those non-construction employers. However, in light of this broader definition, the legislature also enacted a mechanism through which employers can elect to "opt-out" of the deemed definition, and maintain the status quo. An election to opt-out must be filed with the Minister, within 3 months and is irrevocable. While the opt-out mechanism came into force on Royal Assent, the deemed definition of "non-construction employer" will come into force at a future date.
For all questions related to these legislative changes for employers, the Gowling WLG Employment, Labour & Equities Group would be pleased to assist. Find out more about our Group and how to contact a specific lawyer.