Below are some additional insights related to Bill 47 that
employers and human resources professionals should be aware of.
ELIMINATES EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK
BASED ON EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Bill 47 repealed the requirement for employers to provide “equal
pay for equal work” on the basis of employment status (part-time,
casual and temporary) and assignment employee status (tempo-rary
help agency status). Under Bill 148, employers were required
to pay part time, casual, temporary and assignment employees at
the same rate as a full-time employee conducting the same work.
Critics of Bill 47 have argued that rolling back this change
permits discrimination on the basis of employment relation-ship.
However, employers have defended it, arguing it will help
stimulate more hiring, particularly for seasonal and casual work.
Employers will be able to hire workers to accommodate the
needs of their business, at a rate commensurate with temporary
or seasonal employment. There will be no requirement to match
temporary or seasonal employee salaries and benefits to those of
full-time employees of the employer.
ELIMINATES NOTICE FOR SCHEDULE CHANGES
Bill 47 repealed some of the most onerous and costly components
in Bill 148 for industries that use on-call or flexible-schedule
employees. It removed the right of workers to refuse shifts assigned
with less than 96-hours’ notice and eliminates the requirement for
employers to provide three-hours pay for cancelling shifts on short
notice. Employers will be able to continue to use on-call employees
at no cost unless they attend work.
REDUCES PERSONAL EMERGENCY LEAVE
Bill 47 reduced the number of Personal Emergency Leave (PEL)
days introduced under Bill 148 to up to three days for personal
illness, two for bereavement and three for family responsibilities.
Unlike Bill 148, all PEL days are without pay. It also repealed the
provision of Bill 148 that prohibits employers from requesting a
medical note. Under Bill 47, employers have the right to require
evidence of entitlement to leave that is reasonable in the circum-stances
(e.g. a medical note).
It is suspected that these changes will result in a reduction in the
number of PEL days utilized by employees, with the hope of pro-viding
more certainty for employers in their scheduling and hiring
practices. However, the reduction of PEL days will also have an
immediate impact on employee rights in the workplace as employ-ers
will have the ability to hold employees accountable for all PEL
days they take. Failure to provide evidence of entitlement to a PEL
day by an employee could result in discipline by their employer.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MOVES
IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION
Interestingly, in stark contrast to its provincial counterpart, in early
November 2018, the Federal Government announced new legis-lation
aimed at expanding workers’ rights; including three PEL
days, scheduling rights and equal pay for part-time, temporary
and casual workers in relation to their full-time counterparts –
all protections which Ontario’s PC Government moved to repeal
in Bill 47.
The newly announced updates to the Canada Labour Code will
impact workers in federally-regulated sectors like airlines, tele-communications,
trucking and banks, whereas the majority of
employees in Ontario rely on provincial employment laws for their
rights on the job. In announcing the changes, federal Employment
Minister Patty Hajdu cited Bill 148 as the template for the federal
changes and criticized the PC Government, calling it, “devastating
to watch really fundamental protections be rolled back.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ONTARIO EMPLOYERS?
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. There are indications that
the PC Government is committed to further review of Ontario’s
employment legislation to lessen the role of government in the
One recent example is Bill 57, entitled Restoring Trust,
Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 (Bill 57), which received
Royal Assent on Dec. 6, 2018. Bill 57 suspended the introduc-tion
of the Pay Transparency Act (the PTA), which was passed by
the previous Liberal Government with the aim of increasing pay
and workforce composition transparency by addressing biases in
hiring, promotion, employment status and pay practices. If pro-claimed,
the PTA will apply to both public and private sector
employers and include:
■■ Measures to increase transparency in the hiring process,
such as a requirement for all Ontario employers to indicate
a compensation rate or range for all publicly advertised
■■ Anti-reprisal provisions that would prohibit employers from
reprising against employees for discussing their compensation
with their employer or co-workers.
■■ Reporting requirements for certain employers to report to the
government annually on workforce composition and differences
Although the PTA’s introduction is suspended, it has not been
discarded. The PC Government has not made an official announce-ment
on whether it will eventually introduce the PTA or what
amendments may be made to it in anticipation of its introduction.
Employers should expect additional changes to Ontario’s
employment laws that will result in further deregulation.
Therefore, employers and their human resources staff are encour-aged
to closely monitor legislative sessions and media sound
bites from the government for further indications about what is
to come. With so much uncertainty on the horizon for Ontario
employers, one thing is known: Continue to expect, and prepare
for, change. n
Dylan E. Augruso is a lawyer in Dickinson Wright’s Canadian
Employment Law Group.
20 ❚ FEBRUARY 2019 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL