April 26, 2019

Changes to ESA improve Employer Flexibility in Workplace

To follow up on the recent Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (Bill 47), the Ontario Government has passed further legislation to provide employers with even greater flexibility in the workplace, cutting previous “red tape.”

On April 3, 2019, the Ontario Government passed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 (Bill 66) resulting in significant amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)[1] as well as several other pieces of legislation.

  1. No Director approval for excess hours

The former version of the ESA prohibited employers from requiring employees to work more than 48 hours in a week unless the Director of Employment Standards approved an agreement between an employee and their employer to increase the weekly limit.

With the amendments, employers can now bypass the Director’s approval and merely enter into a written agreement with the employee permitting excess hours.

  1. No Director approval for overtime averaging

The ESA requires employers to pay employees overtime for hours in excess of 44 hours per week. Under the previous version of the ESA, employers (with employee approval) could average overtime hours over consecutive weeks in order to reduce this obligation. However, averaging agreements had to be approved by the Director of Employment Standards in order to be valid.

Under the amendments, similar to the approval of excess hours, the employer now only needs to obtain the employee’s written approval to enter into an overtime averaging agreement. The Director’s approval is no longer necessary.

  1. No ESA poster at workplace

The former version of the ESA required employers to post the province’s ESA Poster in the employee’s workplace. The ESA Poster is prepared by the Ministry of Labour and sets out the employee’s rights under the ESA.

With the amendments, employers are no longer required to post the ESA Poster in the workplace; however, they must still provide a copy of the Poster to each employee.

Sotos LLP helps its clients remain current in this shifting landscape. For more information on the impact of these changes on your workplace, contact Louis Sokolov at lsokolov@sotosllp.com.

[1] See Schedule 9.