Ontario’s Labor Laws for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act

Vivek Davalur

Vivek Davalur

Enterprise Account Executive, Americas

June 19, 2018

Ontario’s Labor Laws for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act

Vivek Davalur, Enterprise Account Executive, Americas
June 19, 2018


Ontario’s new labor laws

On November 22, 2017, the Ontario government passed the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, also known as Bill 148. The passage of this bill will introduce major changes to the workforce in Ontario. These changes include a higher minimum wage, equal pay, personal emergency leave, increased vacation entitlements, and more. The bill officially received royal assent in November after months of debate among not only politicians but also the business and labor sector. Labor Minister Kevin Flynn stated:

“Over the past two years, we’ve heard from people across the province about the need to update our labour and employment laws. Ontario workers deserve fair wages they can live on, as well as safe and fair working conditions. Too many families struggle to get by on part-time or temporary work. Those working full-time can be living in poverty. This is unacceptable in Ontario. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity.”

Bill 148

So what’s actually in the bill? Here are some of the most notable changes employers and employees in Ontario should take note of:

Minimum Wage

Ontario’s general minimum wage will increase to $14 per hour starting January 1, 2018, and then rise to $15 beginning January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.

The current special minimum wage rates for students under 18, liquor servers, hunting and fishing guides and homeworkers (employees working from their homes for an employer) would remain in effect, with increases by the same percentage as the general minimum wage. For example, liquor servers will see an increase from $10.10 per hour to $12.20 per hour starting in 2018, and then increase to $13.05 per hour beginning January 2019. For the full list of the special minimum wage increase, read this document.

Like some states in the United States, increases in minimum wages are also spreading around to other provinces in Canada. The image below, shows which areas are changing the general minimum wage.

Ontario Labor Laws-map

Equal pay for equal work

Starting April 1, 2018, part-time, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees will all be paid the same as full-timers who do the same work for the same employer. Workers will also be permitted to ask their employer to review their rate of pay if they believe they are not getting paid equally. The employer would then have to adjust their pay accordingly or give them a written explanation.

Scheduling Rules

This was a debate in the early stages of the bill over how strict shift scheduling should be regulated. Beginning January 1, 2019, eligible employees will have new rights related to scheduling. These rights include:

  • An employee has the right to request a schedule or location change once they’ve been employed for three months, without being penalized.
  • An employee will have the right to refuse a shift on a day that they were not scheduled to work if the request is made less than 96 hours before the time the employee would start work.
  • An employee who is “on call” and not called to work (or who is called into work and works for less than three hours) must be paid for three hours of work.
  • The employer will also be required to pay for three hours of work if they cancel an employee’s scheduled shift with less than a 48 hours’ notice.
  • If an employee is ‘on-call’ but is either not called into work or works less than three hours, the employer will again be required to pay the employee for three hours of work. This will be required for each 24-hour period the employee is on call.

Of course, these laws have some exceptions, such as if there was a fire or similar issues beyond the employer’s control. In the case of those types of event, the employer would not be required to pay the employee. Employees also cannot refuse a shift if they are being called in for an emergency, to reduce a threat to public safety or other public service deliveries.

In an effort to stay compliant with these scheduling changes, it’s important for employers to invest in a complete compliance solution that is capable of handling these scheduling regulations. Deputy helps employers empower their employees by simplifying the scheduling process and letting both parties be in control of their schedule. With Deputy, employers can rest easy knowing that their labor costs are in control, their shift changes are recorded, and, most importantly, schedules are compliant. Set up a call with one of our reps below and see how Deputy can keep you on the right side of the law:


Paid Vacation and Holiday Pay

Under the legislation, employees are now entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after five or more years with the same employer. This went into effect January 1, 2018.

According to the Government of Ontario, vacation pay must be at least four percent of the gross wages (excluding any vacation pay) earned in the 12-month vacation entitlement year or stub period (where that applies) for employees with less than five years of employment.

The formula for calculating public holiday pay has also been simplified and will be based on the number of days actually worked in the pay period immediately preceding the public holiday. This change takes effect July 1, 2018, and generally applies to all employees covered by the Employment Standards Act of 2000.

As an employer, automating your team’s vacation request can help you manage your business better. Using Excel to document all of your employee’s team’s vacation requests can be an unnecessary mess. With the right workforce management tool, you can easily track all of your employee’s vacation and pay. Deputy’s leave management tool will allow you to manage the leave workflow, from applying for leave, approving leave, and using open shifts to backfill shifts for those who have taken time off. Both employees and employers will be able to see leave balances in total hours (and days) in one place. Don’t let your business run you. Try Deputy for free and get back to loving your business. Start free trial

Personal Emergency Leave

The new legislation now requires all employers to give all employees 10 personal emergency leave days per year, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week. Previously, this only applied to business with 50 or more employees. Under this law, paid personal emergency leave will be extended to all workers. The employer would also not be allowed to require doctor’s note for the leave.

This came into effect on January 1, 2018.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

Victims of domestic or sexual violence, or parents of children who have experienced or are threatened with it, now will get five days of paid leave and 17 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave. Eligible employees must have been employed for at least 13 consecutive weeks with the same employer. An employee is not entitled to this leave if the employee committed the domestic or sexual violence.

For employees who are hourly paid will receive the hourly rate x the number of hours the employee did not work because they took the leave. For salary employees, they will generally receive pay equal to the salary continuance. In other words, if the employee took leave for a full day: divide their salary from the number of days in a pay period.


The Government of Ontario will be in charge of enforcing these new laws and expect to hire up to 175 more employment standards officers. Once the new employment standards officers are hired, the Employment Standards program will be able to resolve all claims within 90 days, inspect Ontario workplaces once a year, and assist and educate new employers in complying with the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The program is to educate both employees and businesses about their rights and obligations under the law.

If an employer breaks these laws, they will face penalties. If an employer is found guilty of violating any of these labor laws, the director of employment standards may make public the name of the employer and the offence.

The employer could also face fines. The maximum fine for employers who violate these laws will be increased from $250, $500, and $1,000 for various violations to $350, $700, and $1,500.

How employers should prepare

In order to prepare for these changes, employers should review and revise their company’s handbooks and practices that are affected by this new law. This includes scheduling and payroll practices.

So how can employers stay compliant? Investing in an employee management system can solve compliant issues and makes scheduling and payroll a breeze, eliminating human error. Here at Deputy, we make it our mission to provide up-to-date information about labor laws and anything that could affect our customers. Employee management software not only protects your organization from lawsuits but it also tedious business operations, making it easier for employers to focus on loving their business. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and see why businesses all over the world trust Deputy as their all-in-one employee management solution.


Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are of a general nature only and are based on Deputy's interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. Deputy is not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article and no warranty is made by us concerning the suitability, accuracy or timeliness of the content of any site that may be linked to this article. Deputy disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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Vivek Davalur
Vivek is an Enterprise Account Executive for Deputy with a customer-centric focus to delivering solutions. When he is not helping business owners and HR leaders better manage their workforce, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his dog and cooking a great meal.
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