By Amanda D. Boyce

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The Ontario government has ushered in further employer-friendly amendments to workplace laws with the passing of Bill 66, Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act, 2018, which received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019.

We provided a detailed explanation of Bill 66’s amendments when it was introduced in December, 2018. Proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and the Ontario Labour Relations Act (the “LRA”) have passed into law with few amendments.

 

Changes to the ESA

Employers are no longer required to post the Ministry’s poster providing information about the Act and regulations in the workplace, although they must still provide the poster to employees.

More significantly, Bill 66 has removed the requirement for employers to seek approval from the Director of Employment Standards before instituting overtime averaging and excess hours agreements.

          Overtime Averaging Agreements

Employees can now agree (in writing) with their employers to have their overtime hours averaged over a period that does not exceed four contiguous weeks. Employers are no longer required to seek approval from the Director.

Most of the other requirements regarding overtime averaging agreements remain in place. For instance, the agreements must contain an expiry date that is no longer than two years after the start date for non-unionized employees, and no later than the day a subsequent collective agreement comes into operation for unionized employees. Further, employees cannot revoke an existing agreement before it expires without the employer’s consent.

Overtime averaging agreements entered into with the Director’s approval before April 3, 2019 continue to be valid and in force until the approval is revoked or expires.

          Excess Hours Agreements

Similarly, employees can now agree (in writing) to work in excess of 48 hours per week, and the Director’s approval is no longer required to make those agreements valid.

Other ESA provisions relating to excess hours, such as requirements for daily and weekly time off work, remain in force. Employees can still revoke excess hours agreements with two weeks’ notice.

Changes to the LRA

Bill 66 amended the LRA to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies to be non-construction employers. The list of deemed organizations was expanded after the Bill was referred to Committee to include local housing corporations, district social services administration boards, and corporations established under Municipal Act, 2001 or the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

This means that trade unions currently representing employees of such institutions who are employed in the construction industry will lose representation rights over those employees. Any collective agreements in existence in regard to such employees will cease to apply, insofar as they apply to the construction industry.

Additional amendments to this provision will allow for certain organizations to “opt-out” of these rules if a trade union represents employees of the organization who are employed, or who may be employed, in the construction industry, by filing an election with the Minister within three months of Bill 66 receiving Royal Assent.

 

For more information contact:

Amanda D. Boyce at aboyce@stringerllp.com or 416-862-1687

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