Williams HR Law LLP

ONTARIO INTRODUCES BILL 149, WORKING FOR WORKERS FOUR ACT, 2023 TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO WORKPLACE LEGISLATION

November 22, 2023

On November 14, 2023, the Ontario government introduced Bill 149, or the Working for Workers Four Act, 2023 (“Bill 149”). If passed, Bill 149 would be the second piece of legislation this year (after the Working for Workers Act, 2023 which received Royal Assent on October 26, 2023) that would amend certain workplace legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 [ESA]. Bill 149 would also be the latest development in a series of legislation that has proposed amendments to workplace legislation, including the Working for Workers Act, 2021, and the Working for Workers Act, 2022.

A summary of key proposed amendments under Bill 149 that are of interest to employers is outlined below.

Proposed Amendments to the ESA

  1. New Disclosure Requirements for Job Postings

If passed, Bill 149 would add a new section under the ESA to introduce certain new requirements for information included in publicly advertised job postings, such as:

  • information about the expected compensation, or the range of expected compensation for the position; and
  • a statement disclosing the use of artificial intelligence if the employer uses artificial intelligence to screen, assess, or select applicants for the position.

Additionally, this new section would prohibit employers from specifically including requirements for “Canadian experience” in a publicly advertised job posting or associated application form. The new amendments would also require employers to retain copies of every publicly advertised job posting for three years after public access to the posting is removed.

  1. Enhanced Wage Protections and Guidelines Around Methods of Payment

Bill 149 also includes a proposed amendment to the definition of “employee” under section 1(1) of the ESA, which would expand the meaning of “training” to include work that is performed during a trial period. This amendment would mean that protections under the ESA for employees, including with respect to the payment of wages for work performed, would apply to employees undergoing training during a trial period.

If passed, Bill 149 would also amend section 13 under the ESA to prohibit employers from withholding or deducting wages from employees in circumstances where a customer of a restaurant, gas station, or other establishment leaves the establishment without paying for any goods or services consumed or received at the establishment.

In addition to the amendments concerning enhanced wage protections, Bill 149 also proposes amendments that would stipulate the methods of payment that an employer can use to pay an employee, including the following:

  • If passed, Bill 149 would add a section under Part V.1 of the ESA to state that an employer may pay an employee’s tips or other gratuities by:
    • cash;
    • cheque payable only to the employee;
    • direct deposit; or
    • by any other prescribed method of payment.

Under the proposed amendments to the ESA, Bill 149 would also require an employer to post any tip-sharing policy in effect in a public area of the workplace, and to retain copies of those policies for three years after the policy ceases to be in effect.

Proposed Amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act

Bill 149 also proposes certain amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 [WSIA], including:

  • designating primary-site esophageal cancer as an occupational disease that is presumed to have occurred due to the nature of the employment of firefighters, fire investigators, or volunteer firefighters, provided that the individual was employed as a full-time firefighter, part-time firefighter or fire investigator, or served as a volunteer firefighter, for at least 15 years; and
  • adding an additional indexing factor to allow for increases in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) benefits that are above the annual rate of inflation to allow increased WSIB benefits to eligible injured workers.

Other Amendments to Workplace Legislation

If passed, Bill 149 would also amend assessment of qualification provisions under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 [FARPCTA], to provide that with respect to individuals applying for registration by regulated professions in Ontario, in order to make a determination of the assessment of qualifications in a way that is “transparent, objective, impartial and fair”, the determination must, at minimum, meet the requirements prescribed by regulation. This requirement would also apply to third party assessments. The FARPCTA applies to 15 regulated professions in Ontario, including the Ontario College of Teachers, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, Skilled Trades Ontario, and the Human Resources Professionals Association.

Additionally, around the same time that the proposed amendments under Bill 149 were announced, the provincial government has also announced that the government will be conducting consultations on ending the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in the settlement of cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct, or violence. This consultation, however, is not part of the proposed amendments under Bill 149.

Takeaways for Employers

The proposed amendments under Bill 149 are at the Second Reading stage, and Bill 149 has not yet received Royal Assent. We will continue to monitor the progression of Bill 149 and will provide updates that are relevant to employers as further details emerge, although we note that given that the Conservative party currently has the majority, we expect that Bill 149 will likely be passed with few additional amendments, if any.

 

This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.

This information is not intended as legal advice.

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