As the Legislative Assembly adjourns for the summer, it is a good time for employers to take stock of changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000introduced by Bill 66 including changes to extended workweeks and overtime averaging.
Bill 66 makes it easier for employers to establish workweeks longer than the default cap of 48 hours by removing the obligation for employers to get the approval of the Ministry of Labour. Instead, all that is required is an agreement between the employer and the affected employee(s).
Extended Work-Week Agreements must be in writing and must include a defined start and end date, with the upper limit being a three (3) year term. These agreements may be canceled by either the employer or the employee by giving notice. Also, employers must provide employees with an information bulletin explaining the rules around extended workweeks.
Overtime must be paid for all hours worked in excess of 44 hours per week. However, there are occasions where employers require greater flexibility due to the nature of their work.
Bill 66 allows employers and employees to enter into overtime averaging agreements and removes the obligation for the Ministry of Labour to approve the agreement. Overtime can now be averaged over a period of up to four (4) weeks, and the agreement can last for up to two (2) years.
The employer must provide the employee with an information bulletin from the Ministry of Labour. However, unlike extended workweek agreements, neither party can unilaterally revoke an overtime averaging agreement.
- The scheduled increases to Ontario’s minimum wage have been halted such that minimum wage remains at $14 per hour until 2020.
- The obligation to provide two (2) paid sick days has been eliminated.
- Personal leave days have been reduced to 8 (from 10)
- There is no longer a three-hour minimum scheduling requirement
For a reminder on the changes made to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 introduced by the Wynn government, please see our Legislative Update article.
While recent changes to the ESA have given employers more flexibility in terms of overtime averaging and scheduling employees over a longer work week, presenting employees with such agreements still carry risk particularly where the employee(s) reject the employer’s proposal. As such, it is wise to consult with a professional at Persaud Employment Law before introducing any such measure so that you have the right communications plan in place when introducing the agreement, and understand how to respond to concerns from employees to avoid any allegations of reprisal.