The proposed “Working For Workers Act, 2021” proposes several changes to Ontario’s Labour Standards Act. The act aims to improve protection and support for workers, provide Ontario with a competitive advantage in attracting innovative global talent, and eliminate agencies that utilize illegal workers, pay illegal wages, or otherwise engage in unethical behavior that exploits vulnerable workers.
For years, this type of legislation is something that organizations have been advocating for. Many believe it’s good for employees and good for businesses. Here are some of the biggest changes the Working for Workers Act 2021 will cause if passed.
Help Improve Work-Life Balance
The Act would require employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy in place encouring employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday. This will hopefully give employees the confidence to not be afraid to stop working and spend time with their families. If passed Ontario would be the first province in Canada to establish policies that help workers disconnect from their responsibilities at work.
No More Non-Compete Agreements
It would also prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements. The act defines a non-compete agreement as “an agreement, or any part of an agreement, between an employer and an employee that prohibits the employee from engaging in any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that is in competition with the employer’s business after the employment relationship between the employee and the employer ends”
Having this ban will allow workers to advance their careers and earn more money and give the province a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting global talent.
However, businesses would still be able to protect their intellectual property through narrower clauses.
Require Recruiters and Temporary Help Agencies to Have a License
One key change is the introduction of licensing requirements for Temporary Help Providers and Recruiters as soon as 2024. This will require all recruiters and temporary help providers doing business in Ontario to be licensed by the Ministry of Labour if they are not already licensed with another province or territory.
Recruiters would need to undergo review before being allowed a license to operate. Inspections by the Ontario government have found many temporary help agencies are illegally paying people below minimum wage and denying other basic employment rights. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development said “This legislation would, if passed, be the toughest of its kind in Canada – ensuring every worker in Ontario has unprecedented protection today and, in the years to come”
Open Opportunities for Internationally Trained Immigrants
This proposed change would help the intense labour shortage that Ontario is facing by helping international trained immigrants practice their profession or trade. Workers in law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical, and plumbing are currently required to meet Canadian work experience requirements to get licensed and work in Canada.
The act would eliminate that requirement, reduce burdensome duplication for official language proficiency testing, and ensure licensing is completed in a timely manner.
The proposed changes, if passed, would apply to non-health-regulated professions and compulsory trades such as the ones listed above. However, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will work with the Ministry of Health to assess if these proposed changes can also be made for health professions in the future.
Require Business Owners to Permit Washroom Access For Delivery Workers
Studies conducted by the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee have found that couriers, truck drivers, and people who deliver food, including those for online delivery platform companies such as SkipTheDishes, are often denied use of a washroom at businesses they serve.
This proposed change was another way for the government to show respect and fairness to the frontline workers who would ensure supplies continued to reach their destination and keep the economy moving during the pandemic.
Continued Support For Business Impacted by COVID-19
The Ontario government would help employers impacted by COVID-19 by amending the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) to allow a significant portion of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s current reserve (valued at $6.1 billion) to be distributed to Schedule 1 employers as defined in the WSIA.
The Ontario government is also proposing to enable the WSIB to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to streamline remittances for businesses. This change would reduce administrative costs and burdens by giving businesses an efficient one-stop shop for submitting payroll deductions.
Ontario is also capping the growth of premiums to an increase of 3.2% through regulation under the Workplace Safety and Amendment Act
How Does This Affect Your Business
Although the act has only recently been through its first reading, business owners should take the time and familiarize themselves with the changes they would need to make. You can read the full lists and get more information at Working for Workers Act 2021.
If you’re looking for more information about how this can affect your business or if what you should be looking for as an employee, contact us, we’d love to talk to you.