The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, Bill 148, received Royal Assent in 2017. It’s provisions will become effective between 2018 – 2019. Some of these changes will involve extra paperwork for hospitality management. Others will cause serious disruptions in the hospitality industry, especially around holidays, or for seasonal tourist attractions.
Bill 148 amends both the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Set out below is a summary of the changes to these three Acts.
Everyone is aware of the minimum wage entitlements. In many hospitality industries this may reduce the number of employees a manager has to operate their department. It will also directly effect their performance.
In many larger organizations managers performance is based on percentages of loss, waste, improvements, and profits. The overall profit of a restaurant will decrease as the minimum wage increases. A good manager needs to find the loss in performance in other areas of their department.
Vacation and Leave
Any employee who works for a company 5 years is entitled to a minimum of 3 weeks’ vacation time. The vacation pay rate has also increased from 4% to 6%. This means that having an aged employee base may substantially increase wages for a department.
This is a catch22. Twenty employees who have worked over five years are well trained and more efficient. There is less training expense and less turnover. This is opposite for employees who have worked for the company less than five years.
Today’s managers need to carefully watch the numbers in their department. It may seem a short-term benefit to keep short-term employees. But the long-term implications can cost your job. The cost of training is prohibitive in many departments. Also, executives and owners will sit up if your department’s employee retention rate plummets.
Employers must now provide 10 personal emergency leave days to workers. Previously, only employers with more than 50 employees were required to provide this emergency leave. Now, two of those days must be paid. The employee only needs to give ‘urgent matter as a reason. Employers can no longer demand a doctor’s note. Under the Bill’s new wording it will be very difficult for employers to prevent abuse.
Employees with 13 consecutive weeks are entitled to 10 days, up to 15 weeks of leave. a leave of absence if they, or their child employee experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence. The first five days must be paid at equivalent to wages.
Medical leave is now extended from 8 – 28 weeks. Criticall Illness leave is extended to 37 weeks in a 52 week period
Part-time, temporary, seasonal or casual employees cannot be paid less where they perform the same work, under similar working conditions, with the same skills, and responsibility, as full-time, employees. The problems is that the jobs only need to be similar.
Bringing in temporary work for theme parks, theaters, casinos, and hotels now has a new twist. In the past the weather may change, or other event happens, resulting in a drop in attendance. In the past when the attendance dropped managers could let the temporary staff go. Now, they need at least one week’s notice, or pay in lieu, if the job was estimated to last more than three months.
This will hit restaurants harder than most other businesses in the hospitality industry. The day staff, must be paid the same as the Weekend evening staff, even though they deal with only 10% of the clientele.
This will have the biggest impact on the restaurant, casino, and tourism. Employers will be required to provide three hours of pay if the employer cancels an employees scheduled shift, or ‘on call’ period within 48 hours before the shift.
As of 2020, the common practice is to have 1 or 2 wait staff on ‘stand by’ incase there was a rush. Now, if there is no rush the employer must pay the stand by wait staff three hours for being on call. There are some provisions but this will be a grey area and pushing the issue could result in employees contacting the labour board.
If something happens, there is a booking problem, or patronage falls off, then employees must be paid a minimum of 3 hours pay.
Employers will be required to record the dates and times that an employee is scheduled to work or to be on call for work, and the actual hours worked. They must also record any changes made to the on call schedule, any cancellations of a scheduled day of work, scheduled on call period, and the date and time of the cancellation.
Another change will hit both hospitality and retail. One of the benefits to hiring workers over 65 was that the company didn’t need to offer group benefits. And, employees could find their group benefits terminated at age 65. Talos v Grand Erie District School Baord 2018 HRTO 680 has now stated that practice is unconstitutional as it discriminates on the employee due to their age.
Right to Refuse
Now employees will have the right to refuse and employer’s demand to work, or be on call if the demand is made less than 96 hours before the time the work commences, unless the call is to deal with an emergency, reduce a threat to public safety, or insure the continued delivery of public service.
This can be detrimental to fast food where employees regularly don’t show up for work, rushes are sudden and can end as suddenly as they start.
Employees who have worked for more than three months have the right to request a schedule or work location change. An employer is required to discuss the request with the employee, advise the employee of its decision within a reasonable time, and to provide reasons if the is denied. Bill 148 is silent as to what constitutes a good reason, which will cause more conflict. What constitutes a good reason for refusal.
It will now be more difficult to hire short term employees. The bill prohibits employers from treating independent contractors, if they meet new criteria. A contractor may have contracts with other organizations but may still be considered an employee and entitled to all benefits.