A new piece of legislation, the Working for Workers Act 2021, was passed in Ontario late last year. It amended various statutes with respect to employment and labour matters, introducing a number of key changes. We have previously reported on the right to disconnect and the prohibition on non-compete agreements which were introduced by this Act.
Hot on the heels of the 2021 Act, the Ontario government has now introduced Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act 2022. If passed, this Act will introduce further changes to Ontario’s system of workplace laws. This article looks at some of the key changes that may be brought about by this new Act.
Why has the Ontario Government introduced a new Bill?
On February 28, 2022, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act 2022. It is currently working its way through the various Parliamentary stages.
A key motivation for introducing this Bill is the Government’s desire to provide gig or platform workers with basic employment rights, as recommended by the 2021 report of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. “Gig” workers are those who use digital apps to book jobs such as food delivery or transporting people. They are typically independent contractors that do not fall under the Employment Standards Act 2000.
We look at three of the key changes that may be implemented if the Act is passed.
The Act would establish foundational rights and protections for digital platform workers
If passed, the Act will establish foundational rights and protections for digital platform workers who provide ride-share, delivery, or courier services. This would guarantee them a minimum wage, protection of their tips, the resolution of disputes in Ontario, and protection from reprisals. The Act proposes to do this through the creation of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act 2022.
The proposed legislation covers those that perform “digital platform work”, which is defined as, subject to the regulations, the provision of for payment rideshare, delivery, courier or other prescribed services by workers who are offered work assignments by an operator through the use of a digital platform.
On March 3, 2022, Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said:
No one working in Ontario should ever make less than minimum wage for an hour’s work. No one working in Ontario should be dismissed without notice, explanation or recourse. No one should have to travel out of Canada to resolve a workplace dispute or sign a contract they don’t understand. This is why our government introduced core rights for gig workers. Our Working for Workers Act 2, if passed, would make Ontario the very first province in Canada to raise the floor for all of these workers.
The Act would ensure that out-of-province workers can register in some professions or trades within 30 business days
The new Act, if passed, would impose service standards on regulated professions when they receive applications from domestic labour mobility applicants. These are individuals who have applied for registration by a regulated profession in Ontario and are currently registered with a body that regulates the same profession in another Canadian province or territory.
The Act proposes to amend the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act 2006 to require the regulated profession to acknowledge an application for registration within 10 business days and provide the applicant with a registration decision within 30 business days.
The aim of this change is to speed up decision-making, allowing workers to move to Ontario and reduce the number of vacant jobs.
The Act would require larger employers to establish and share policies on how they are monitoring electronic devices
In order to address privacy concerns, the new Act, if passed, will require some employers to be transparent on how employees’ use of computers, cell phones, GPS systems and other electronic devices are being tracked. This would apply to employees working in any environment, including the workplace or at home.
On February 24, 2022, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development said:
Today, businesses have more ways than ever before to monitor where their workers are and what they are doing. Whether you are a delivery person being followed by GPS, a construction worker using a company phone, or an office worker logging in from home, you deserve to know if and how you are being tracked.
The Act seeks to amend the Employment Standards Act 2000 to introduce a requirement that employers who employ 25 or more employees on January 1 have a written policy in place for all employees with respect to electronic monitoring of employees. It must be prepared by March 1 and provided to each employee within 30 days. There are transitional provisions amending these deadlines for the first year in which the Act is in force.
The policy is required to set out the following matters:
- whether the employer electronically monitors employees and if so, a description of how and in what circumstances, as well as the purposes for which information obtained through electronic monitoring may be used by the employer;
- the date the policy was prepared and the date any changes were made; and
- such other information as may be prescribed.
Contact Haynes Law Firm in Toronto for Assistance with New Employment Legislation
Workplace law in Ontario is constantly changing. As such, it is important to get advice from a seasoned employment lawyer. Haynes Law Firm can guide you through these developing areas of the law. For example, we can help you with drafting employment policies or reviewing them to ensure they comply with all applicable requirements. We also advise on worker classification, helping employers to mitigate legal liability by ensuring that employees are treated as required.
Haynes Law Firm helps employers and employees throughout Ontario achieve effective solutions to legal issues and conflict management in employment law and civil litigation. Contact us online or call us at 416.593.2731.