How Does the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 Affect Your Employees and Your Bottom Line?
Sandie Baillargeon Posted on July 3rd, 2018

The passing of Bill 148, has made changes to the Employment Standards Act and increased your staff costs.  The short title of the new Act is the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.  Changes in the new act include increase of the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour effective January 1, 2019.  Currently the minimum wage is $14.00 per hour. The increase in minimum wage is only part of the picture.

There are several other substantial changes in this act that will have an affect your staff costs, staff schedules, operating budget and employee polices.  It will also be very important to maintain your performance review process and award salary increases based on merit of performance.  This will address the Equal Pay for Equal Work amendment where employers are required to provide equal pay when the job duties are substantially the same, i.e. assistants, hygienists, etc.  It is important to have a performance review policy and grant pay increases based on merit of performance to ensure that you are compliant with this amendment.

Here is a summary of the changes that you need to be aware of and make the necessary changes in your employment policies:

  1. Vacation entitlement – If any employees have worked for your office for 5 years or more, they are entitled to receive 6% vacation pay or three weeks vacation.

  2. Statutory holiday pay – The calculation for public holiday pay has changed and will affect your payroll that includes New Year’s Day.   The new calculation is add the total amount of regular wages earned in the pay period immediately before the public holiday, divided by the number of days worked by the employee in that period.
    For example, employee, Susan, works one day per week and earns $100 each day she works. Accordingly, she earned $100 for the pay period December 24 to 30, 2017. Per the new calculation, she would be entitled to $100 in public holiday pay for January 1, 2018($100 ÷ 1 = $100).
    Under the old calculation, Susan would have earned just $20.

  3. Personal Emergency Leaves   – Employees are entitled to up to 10 personal emergency leave days per year as soon as they start working for an employer. The first two days of the leave in each calendar year are paid if the employee has been employed for one week or longer. An employee who missed part of a day to take the leave would be entitled to any wages they actually earned while working, in addition to personal emergency leave pay for any leave taken.
    An employee who is entitled to personal emergency leave can take up to 10 days of leave each calendar year due to:

    • Personal illness, injury or medical emergency
    • Death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to the following family members:
      • Spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders)
      • Parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
      • Spouse of the employee’s child
      • Brother or sister of the employee
      • Relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance

    It is important to point out that personal emergency leave days are to be used for personal emergencies only.  For example, they will not be granted for reasons such as attending a friend’s wedding, or wishing to go to a ballet recital, etc.

  4. New leaves of absence – Your Employee Policies Manual should include information regarding the extended leaves for pregnancy/parental leave and the new leaves of absence that are included in the act as below:
    • Critical illness leave
    • Pregnancy leave
    • Parental leave
    • Family medical leave
    • Child death leave
    • Crime-related child disappearance leave
    • Personal emergency leave
    • Domestic and sexual violence leave

  5. 3-hour rule – Change in the Schedule
    If an employee who regularly works more than 3 hours a day is required to present to work but works less than 3 hours, the employee shall be paid 3 hours at their regular rate of pay. That requirement has always been in place and there is no change. The change is you must provide the employee with 48 notice of the change in schedule..  If less than 48 hours notice is provided, the employee will be provided with 3-hours pay at their regular rate.  This does not apply if the office is unable to provide work for the employee because of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond our control that result in stopping work.

    A mandatory requirement of the Ministry of Labour is that your office must post the new ESA poster in a location where all of your staff can read it. You can download the poster by following this link: Please download the poster and post it today. A government inspector could visit your office at any time and will look for that poster.

    These new rules are in force now and will affect the bottom line of all employers across Ontario. The increase in staff costs will be felt immediately. Now is the time to deploy strategies to increase your revenue and streamline your business systems to help offset the increased costs of running your business. Employers need to understand all of the new provisions and act swiftly to comply with them .If you need help updating your human resources policies and meeting other compliance issues, or simply want to streamline your business systems contact DOCS at 905-332-2326 or send an email to We’re here to help!

Author: Sandie Baillargeon


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