February 18, 2014
Just before the December holidays, the Minister of Labour tabled a bill for parliamentary debate entitled: “Strong Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act”, which is described as “an act to protect the province’s most vulnerable workers and increase fairness for both employees and businesses.” A lofty goal to be sure.
Bill 146 poses the following 8 major changes to labour rights in Ontario:
The Employment Standards Act, 2000:
1. to remove the current $10,000 cap on awards which can be made by the Ministry of Labour for unpaid wages thereby removing the necessity to litigate larger claims in court;
2. to increase the time limit for recovery of wages to two years;
3. to require employers to provide a handout about employee rights to their employees;
4. to extend the protection prohibiting employers from:
(a) charging fees for recruitment and placement; and,
5. OHSA extended to protect co-op students, trainees and other unpaid learners;
6. a decrease to the “open period” from three months to two;
Temporary help agency workers:
7. making agencies and their clients jointly and severally liable to pay wages to workers; and,
8. attaching WSIB ratings to the client where there is a temporary worker injured at work, as opposed to assignment to the agency.
It is unclear as to what is in Bill 146 for employers or, whether it will actually strengthen our economy. However, what this will do is communicate information to the most vulnerable employees about their rights and make justice more accessible (though not necessarily more speedy as cases start to pile up).
What will this mean for employers? It will possibly mean more cases before the Ministry of Labour and possibly more appeals where rapid justice does not necessarily reach correct results.
Will it pass….stay tuned.