dive a little deeper into the Bill, you recognize increasingly the loss
of flexibility and discretion in managing your operations and the
cost implications, particularly if you’re not proactive about proper-ly
structuring compensation, entitlements and scheduling.”
As the implications of the Bill become more widely under-stood,
employers and HR professionals are keeping a keen eye on
“Within the context of my clients, I would say everyone is
extremely nervous,” said Patrizia Piccolo, partner at Rubin
Thomlinson. “They’re very concerned about the sheer volume
of changes. It’s very difficult for them to digest and get a han-dle
on the intricate detail of all the changes and there’s a sense of
COMPENSATION, CHANGE AND COMPLEXITY
Bill 148 includes several measures related to compensation, above
and beyond the minimum wage increase.
One relatively straightforward proposal is an across-the-board
rise in vacation pay, from four per cent to six per cent, after five
years of service.
On the more complicated side, the new law would introduce a
policy of equal work for equal pay regardless of employment status.
This would mean part-time staff, temporary, seasonal and casual
workers would earn the same rate of pay as full-time employees
doing the same job. Exceptions would be made for pay systems
based on objective measures, including seniority and merit.
Legal experts suggest there may be a few bumps in the road
when it comes to implementing this change.
“I have many clients with unions in their organizations who
have collective agreements in place and they’ve negotiated differ-entials
in pay rates, so there are big question marks around what
happens there,” said Piccolo. “The law trumps the collective agree-ment,
so that’s something of a complicated mess, if you will, to be
cleaned up. For instance, does this mean if you pay a certain rate
of double time or overtime to a full-time employee, but offer time
and a half to part-time employees, that you need to change what
you give part-time workers? There are certain practical issues and
details that will need to be sorted out.”
In many cases, this could make part-time or seasonal workers a
more expensive addition to the workforce – something that may
influence strategy when it comes to workforce planning.
“We may find there’s a decreased appetite on the part of em-ployers
to hire part-timers,” said Piccolo.
If interns and more junior employees have trouble getting a foot
in the door, that could mean organizations have one less avenue
for sourcing and engaging potential new talent.
“This may be a disincentive for employers to hire on stu-dents
and others who may not come with a full set of skills,” said
Williams. What’s more, the changes come as more and more peo-ple
are seeking greater flexibility from their employers. “You have
a growing number of individuals who choose temporary or part-time
work because they need that flexibility in their schedule to
accommodate whatever their lifestyle is. So that presents a chal-lenge,
PERSONAL EMERGENCY LEAVE
The proposed changes will also impact employees’ rights to take
personal emergency leave. At the moment, employers with 50
employees or more are required to give their workers 10 days of
“The proposal wipes out the 50 employee requirement – so this
would now apply to every employer – and two of those 10 days
must be paid,” said Piccolo.
That could prove costly, says Hendrik Nieuwland, partner with
Shields O’Donnell MacKillop.
“The operating presumption is that if there are days available to
be taken, they are on average taken,” said Nieuwland. “That leads
to a differential impact on smaller employers with respect to pro-ductivity
because more people will be taking days off, and two of
those days must be paid.”
The new law would also stipulate that an employer couldn’t re-quire
a doctor’s note to explain an absence. An employer can still
ask, but an employee can simply say no.
“That’s problematic from a practical standpoint because one of
the ways to create a disincentive for abusing leave days is the re-quirement
to have a doctor’s note,” said Nieuwland. “Now that
tool has been removed from the employer’s toolbox.”
Proposed workplace scheduling changes would impact many busi-nesses,
as well, particularly those in the retail, hospitality and
“Employees will now have the right to refuse a shift or re-fuse
to be on call if they’re given less than four days’ notice,” said
Nieuwland. “That’s tough for these industries because they need
flexibility to address peak periods.”
“IF BILL 148 IS PASSED INTO LAW, IT WILL BE ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY FOR NEW
BUSINESSES AND SMALLER BUSINESSES – MANY OF WHOM DON’T HAVE DEDICATED
HR DEPARTMENTS – TO ENGAGE HR PROFESSIONALS TO COME IN…THERE MAY BE
AN UPFRONT COST TO IT, BUT NOW, IN THE EARLY DAYS, IS THE TIME TO ENSURE
COMPLIANCE AND LIMIT EXPOSURES AND COST. THERE’S NO ‘COWBOYING IT’ ON
YOUR OWN, OR YOU’RE GOING TO END UP PAYING THE PRICE DOWN THE LINE.”
– DAVID WHITTEN
24 ❚ OCTOBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL