Ontario’s proposed Bill 149 (the “Working for Workers Four Act, 2024”) received royal assent on March 21, 2024. This legislation imposes various new requirements on Ontario employers regarding pay transparency, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in job postings, and job requirements, among other things.

This blog provides a high-level overview of the updates introduced by Bill 149, along with the corresponding effective dates. It will also provide insight into how the changes introduced under Bill 149 will impact existing employment-related legislation.

Bill 149: Amendments to the Employment Standards Act

As of March 21, 2024, some legislative amendments introduced under Bill 149 have been implemented. Specifically, Bill 149 has already amended the Employment Standards Act in the following ways:

  • Trial Periods: Unpaid trial shifts are banned, and work that an individual performs during a trial period will now be considered “training” and must be paid, and the individual is considered an employee under the legislation; and
  • Wage Deductions: Employers are prohibited from making deductions from an employee’s wages due to loss of property or a cash shortage, which includes situations where a customer leaves a business without paying for goods or services sought or received, such as food or gas.

Changes in Effect as of June 21, 2024

As of June 21, 2024, the following amendments to the Employment Standards Act will be effective:

  • Vacation Pay: Vacation pay arrangements must be made between the employee and employer, and the terms of such arrangement must be outlined in an agreement. Vacation pay must be paid out in accordance with the timing outlined in the agreement.
  • Tips: Employers who opt to pay their employees’ tips and gratuities by cheque or cash must give these to the employee at their workplace or some other place that is agreeable to the employee. Further, the employer must post any tip sharing or “tip pool” policy in the workplace, and a copy of this policy must be retained for three years.

Additional Updates to be Named by Proclamation

In addition to the above-noted amendments, there are further changes which will be implemented under Bill 149; however, the date on which these requirements will come into effect is not yet known:

  • The Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI): In publicly advertised job postings, employers must include a statement regarding their use of AI in screening, assessing, or selecting applicants.
  • Canadian Work Experience: Employers will be prohibited from including Canadian work experience requirements in their publicly advertised job postings.
  • Pay Transparency: Employers must include the expected compensation, or range of expected compensation, for any position in a publicly advertised job posting.
  • Retention of Job Postings: Employers must retain copies of every publicly posted job advertisement for three years after the posting is taken down.

Additional Legislative Amendments to Be Implemented Under Bill 149

Beyond the Employment Standards Act, Bill 149 contains updates that will impact other Ontario statutes. Some of these critical changes are summarized below:

Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022

On a future date to be proclaimed, Bill 149 will amend the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act to allow limits to be imposed on the length of a recurring pay period. Further, regulations will be enacted to prescribe rules to determine compliance with upcoming minimum wage requirements.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

On a date to be proclaimed, once the minimum wage provisions of the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act come into force, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act will be amended to provide that firefighters and fire investigators who have been diagnosed with primary-site esophageal cancer will presumptively be entitled to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits after 15 years of employment. This amendment reflects a 10-year reduction from the previous 25 years of employment requirement.

Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006

On a future date to be proclaimed, Bill 149 will amend the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act to require certain prescribed requirements to be met to ensure a regulated profession addresses a candidate’s qualifications in a transparent, objective, impartial and fair manner. These requirements will also apply to a third party who conducts such assessments.

Final Thoughts on the Implementation of Bill 149 in Ontario

Given the upcoming changes introduced by Bill 149, Ontario employers should take this time to review their current policies, practices and contracts and update them, as needed, to ensure continued compliance with these new requirements. Employers should also familiarize themselves with the respective effective dates and ensure they act in accordance with the latest legislative requirements.

By taking proactive steps to prepare for future amendments and working with an experienced employment lawyer, employers can mitigate their risk and feel confident in knowing that their revised policies, procedures, and agreements are drafted in accordance with the applicable laws. Willis Business Law will continue to monitor and provide updates on the impact of these legislative amendments.

Contact the Windsor Employment Lawyers at Willis Business Law for Advice on Workplace Policies and Compliance Matters

At Willis Business Law, our talented team of experienced labour and employment law lawyers frequently work with private and public sector employers, advising on workplace policy drafting, contract negotiation, and termination matters. Our employment law team remains up-to-date on the ever-changing legislative landscape governing workplaces across Ontario to ensure our clients understand their obligations and rights as employers.

Located in downtown Windsor, Willis Business Law proudly represents clients across Windsor-Essex. To speak with a member of our team or to schedule a confidential consultation regarding your labour or employment law matter, contact us online or call us at 519-945-5470.

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