Friday, August 06, 2010

Bill 68: Proposed Changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act

Ontario's Bill 68, the Open for Business Act, 2010, which passed second reading in June, proposes significant changes to Ontario's Employment Standards Act.  

The legislation is described in a provincial government backgrounder:

The Ministry of Labour is proposing amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, that would:
  • Allow the Director of Employment Standards to require claimants to provide specific information and let their employer know about their Employment Standards complaint before the claim is assigned to an officer. 
  • Authorize employment standards officers to attempt settlements of complaints. 
  • Allow officers to make decisions on claims when parties fail to attend decision-making meetings or provide evidence on time. 
These amendments support the Ministry of Labour’s initiative to advance fairness in the workplace and modernize its Employment Standards program. These initiatives include:
  • Launching a task force in August 2010 to eliminate the backlog of 14,000 claims in two years. 
  • The new online severance pay decision tool for employers and employees. 
  • The future launch of a termination of employment/temporary layoff tool that determines when a layoff becomes a termination, the termination date and any termination pay owing.
The Toronto Star today details objections by various critics of the proposed changes:
“You don’t reduce backlog by creating more barriers to discourage complaints,” said Fred Hahn, president of the 230,000-member Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario.
For more reading, see the Star article: Employment bill stymies complaints against employers, critics say.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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