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Recently the Ontario Provincial Government passed some large changes to labour laws. These changes were mainly meant to protect and offer new rights to all workers.
Unfortunately, these changes were easily missed because they are included in the same bill as the new minimum wage legislation and were heavily overshadowed by this debate.
So here are some of the biggest changes!
Maternity and Parental Benefits
This change allows families to have the option of taking their EI parental benefits for 61 weeks at a reduced rate of 33% of Average weekly earnings. Now parents can choose between this option or the traditional 35 week at 55% of average weekly earnings.
Maternity benefits can also now be taken up-to-12 weeks before a child’s expected birthdate. This is up from the previous 8 weeks.
This change was actually passed by the federal government a few months back, but only now applies to all workers in Ontario.
Personal Emergency Leave!
Beginning on Jan. 1st of 2018, workers will now be able to take 2-days paid and 8-days unpaid leave in cases of personal emergency.
Personal emergency is classified as happening when you’re ill, injured, or have a medical emergency. Workers can also take this time off if their spouse or if another “direct” family member has similar problems.
This is a big one! This new policy attempts to tackle employers that classify their workers as contractors instead of employees.
This has been a serious problem because misclassified employees may not qualify for benefits and job security. Plus, they have additional responsibilities and costs associated with being a contractor.
Now, employers have the burden of proof to show that an employee is a contractor and not an employee if challenged.
Elimination of Mandatory High Heels
This issue is most rampant in the hospitality and restaurant industries. Unfortunately, females were often forced to wear heels or discriminated against if they chose not to wear heels.
High heels have been linked to health issues, so this is a very welcome change.
Some exceptions apply, if the heels are needed for safety or if the employee is in the entertainment or marketing industry.
Family Medical Leave
Beginning on Jan 1st, 2018, employees will now be able to take up to 28 days of leave to care and support certain family members that are in risk of death within the next 26 weeks.
This will be a big topic that will grow in severity as the baby boomer generation ages.
Equal Pay For Equal Work
Begins on April 1st, 2018, temporary employees will be required to receive the same pay as what full-time employee would receive for doing similar work. This new law will apply to all part-time, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees.
Exemptions do exist for merit, seniority, productivity, and other reasons.
Beginning on Jan 1st, 2019, this change will protects workers that are on call and do shift-work.
This change has a few components, but the biggest is that employers must give you 48 hours cancellation notice before a shift start time. If not, then you’re entitled to 3 hours of pay.
Workers will also free to refuse to work a shift with under-96 hours of advance notice.