If you are reading this post you’ve probably heard of the Employment Standards Act (ESA). We talk a lot about it on our blog and the fact that you are on an employment lawyer’s webpage suggests that your Google search about your severance entitlements or maternity leave indicated your rights under the ESA have been infringed and you are here to see if we can help you. (We can!)
What Is The ESA?
For those not familiar with this piece of legislation: the ESA regulates employment in the province of Ontario and sets out standards regarding such workplace issues as minimum wage and overtime pay to which both employees and employers must adhere. The Act is the backbone of Ontario labour law and it is due for an update.
Much of the legislation within the ESA was crafted in the 1990s and, unlike butterfly clips and JNCO jeans, has largely stood the test of time. However, the information age has created an economy few legislators could have imagined when they sat down at their Windows 95 to develop the ESA. That’s why the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced last year that it would be reviewing the ESA.
A Changing Workforce – Changing Workplaces Review
In July of 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Labour released an Interim Report based on consultation with a dozen Ontario cities. This Changing Workplaces Review proposed hundreds of options for amending the ESA and the Labour Relations Act to improve protections for workers while supporting businesses in the modern economy.
The workplace is changing. The workforce of the Baby Boomers who developed the ESA is very different from the one Millennials currently navigate. Gone are the days of ubiquitous nine-to-fives, unions and retirement plans. Today, work in many sectors is far less stable than it was 20 years ago. Involuntary part-time, temporary and self-employment are on the rise, as are short-term contract positions. Few young people entering the workforce can expect to work for the same company for 25-plus years and retire with a pension. Many workers do not have the same protections as their parents or grandparents and this increasing lack of stability and security for employees is part of what is driving the push for this ESA overhaul.
What To Expect From An Updated ESA
The Changing Workplaces Review is focussed on reforms that protect the most vulnerable workers and those in precarious positions. Though employers may be skittish about proposals that will increase their operating costs, the review seeks to balance the needs of both employees and employers.
Some proposed reform options include:
- providing shift workers minimum advanced notice of schedules and compensation for last minute changes to said schedules;
- making paid sick days mandatory;
- increasing paid vacation time to three weeks per year;
- starting overtime at 40 hours instead of 44 hours; and
- raising the 26-week cap on severance pay
While we do not yet know which recommendations, the government will adopt in its ESA overhaul, we hope to see changes that keep employees protected and employers competitive.
Experts In Employment Law
KCY at LAW are experts in employment law that can help you navigate your rights under the Employment Standards Act. We stay up-to-date with the changing legislative and legal landscape to ensure you get the best counsel. Reach us online or call us at (905) 639-0999 to book your consultation.