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Bill 148: It’s Not Just All About a Higher Minimum Wage

There’s been much ado lately about the increase to Ontario’s minimum wage (from $11.60 to
$14.00 in 2018 and $15.00 in 2019) and the economic impact this hike will have on businesses.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve certainly heard about the backlash certain Tim Horton
franchises are facing due to cuts made to certain fringe benefits previously offered to their
employees to counter the increase in payroll expenses.

What is often not discussed are the other significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that Bill 148 has ushered in which are beneficial to employees, yet will likely cause additional and somewhat unknown financial burdens on employers.

1. Personal Emergency Leave
Prior to January 1, 2018, employees in workplaces with 50 or more employees had the right to
take up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave, for personal emergencies. Now every
employee, in any size of workplace, is entitled to take up to 10 days of leave each calendar year,
including 2 paid days if they’ve been employed for 7 days or longer. Such leave is permitted for
any personal illness, injury or medical emergency, or the death, illness, medical emergency or
urgent matter relating to family members including spouses, parents, grandparents, child,
siblings, etc. Employers must recognize and be prepared for the financial consequences of each of their
employees taking at least 2 days of leave in a calendar year and paying them for those days.

2. On-Call Shifts – 3 Hour Rule
Many businesses function effectively due to their ability to have employees on-call to service
customers when such needs arise. For example, a business may employ service technicians who
work a regular day shift and are on-call in the evening hours. Previously, employees were not
entitled to any pay if they were “on call” and were not called in.
Now, employees will be entitled to 3 hours of pay at their regular rate for every 24-hour period
they are on-call, whether or not they are called into work or if they are called in to work less than
3 hours, so long as they were available to work for at least 3 hours at the relevant time.
Businesses in the off-hour service industry will need to evaluate customer needs and potentially
create new shifts (at different rates of pay) to manage the requirement of paying at least 3 hours
for every on-call shift.

3. Equal Pay for Equal Work
As of April 1, 2018, it will be mandatory for employers to pay casual, part-time, temporary and
seasonal employees, who are doing substantially the same work as full-time/permanent
employees, the same rate of pay as full-time/permanent employees. The only exceptions are if
the wage difference is based on:
 a seniority or merit system; or
 systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production

Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employee will be allowed to ask their employer to
review their rate of pay if they believe they’re not receiving the same rate as others who do the
same work.

In order to ensure they are compliant with the new rules, employers must review their current
payroll and be prepared to pay wage increases if appropriate.

These are just a few of the changes that are impacting Ontario businesses. For more information and assistance on how to implement and manage the impact of Bill 148, contact the experienced lawyers at Pavey Law LLP.