On April 11, 2022 Bill 88, Working for Workers Act, 2022 received royal assent, introducing significant changes to a number of employment-related statutes, and introducing the Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022.
The most important changes introduced by Bill 88 include:
- New employment standards exemptions: Certain business consultants and information technology consultants are now exempt from the Employment Standards Act (ESA). This includes hours of work provisions, overtime provisions, and termination pay and severance obligations. This amendment comes into force on January 1, 2023.
- Requirement to develop an electronic monitoring policy: Employers with 25 or more employees as of January 1 of any year are required to develop and implement a written electronic monitoring policy by October 11, 2022, and make copies of the policy available to all of their employees. The policy must include whether the employer electronically monitors its employees and, if so, (i) a description of how and in what circumstances the employer may electronically monitor employees, and (ii) the purpose for which information obtained through electronic monitoring may be used by the employer. The policy must also contain the date it was prepared and any changes made to it, and any other information as may be prescribed by regulation.
- New Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022: Bill 88 enacts the Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022 which establishes rights for workers who perform digital platform work, defined as the provision for payment ride share, delivery, courier or other prescribed service through a digital platform. The new Act provides for the following worker rights and obligations, among others:
- Right to information: Digital platform operators must provide workers with information on how pay is calculated and whether tips and gratuities are collected, pay periods, performance ratings, work assignments, etc.
- Right to recurrent pay period and pay day, minimum wage for each work assignment performed by a worker, and amounts earned and tips and other gratuities.
- Right to notice of removal: Workers must be advised of the reasons for being removed from a platform, and be given two weeks’ written notice if access is removed for more than 24 hours.
- Right to be free from reprisal and to resolve work-related disputes with platform operators in Ontario.
- The Act also sets out record-keeping obligations for platform operators, director liability provisions, and detailed complaints and enforcement provisions.
- Health and safety: the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is amended to (i) require employers to provide naloxone kits when an employer becomes aware of a risk for a worker of having an opioid overdose at the workplace; (ii) increase maximum fines under the OHSA to $1,500,000 for directors and officers, and $500,000 for other individuals; and (iii) increase the limitation period for prosecutions to two years. Amendments to the OHSA enforcement provisions come into force on July 1, 2022, while the new requirements related to the provision of naloxone kits will come into force at a future day to be named by proclamation.
- Expanded reservist leave: The ESA is amended to provide employees with additional time off to participate in Canadian Armed Forces military skills training.
- New timelines for applications to certain regulated professions: Amendments to the Fair Access to Regulation Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 establish new timelines to reduce delays for responding to applications for registration by a regulated profession in Ontario from applicants already registered with an equivalent out-of-province body.
Bill 88 has sweeping implications for employers. Employers with more than 25 employees should review their electronic monitoring practices and start developing a written policy in accordance with the new ESA requirements. Business qualifying as digital platform operators under the Digital Platform Workers Rights Act should review their payment, record-keeping, and other practices to ensure compliance with the obligations set under the new Act, which will come into force on a date yet to be determined. If you have any questions or need assistance with any of the above, please contact someone from our team.
Many thanks to Juliette Mestre for her assistance with this article.