In 2017, we witnessed Ontario pass its largest labor bill in over ten years, known as the Bill 148. Bill 148 significantly amends Ontario’s Labor Relations Act (1995), Occupational Health and Safety Act, and Employment Standards Act (2000). Most of the laws in the bill came into effect January 1st, 2018, while others will be effected at different times during the year, all the way into 2019. If you are a business owner, this bill will affect you massively. It is therefore paramount for any business owner to grasp the new changes to make sure that they are on the right side of the law. In this article, we look at the most important aspect of the new act, parts that are relevant to business people.

Some of the noteworthy changes are:

Minimum wage increase

Ontario’s minimum wage increased by 20% on 1st January 2018, jumping from $11.60 to $14.00. This means, as a businessperson, you will have to pay your lowest earning employees more. It is imperative that you plan for these changes to avoid cash strains as you do business. Furthermore, you should be ready as a business owner since the minimum wage is expected to rise again in 2019 with an aim of reaching the heavily lobbied for $15.

Tax rate cut for small businesses

The new bill also brings about changes to Ontario’s corporate tax rate which has gone down to 3.5% from 4.5%. If you own a small business, this change intends to support you by offsetting impacts of the new minimum wage. Because of reduction in the tax rate, the minimum wage will not affect small businesses disproportionately.

Employee vacation

According to the new law, if an employee has worked in your business for five years or more, he/she is now entitled to a vacation spanning three weeks. This is up from the previous 2 weeks. Employees who have worked for you for less than 5 years are still entitled to a 2-week vacation period. Additionally, there is a new formula to calculate holiday pay: the total amount paid divided by the total number of days worked. This average pay is what employers/business owners will use to calculate their employees’ holiday pay.

New scheduling rules

Bill 148 brings with it new scheduling rules which all employers ought to know. They are:

1. As one of their rights, employees can request adjustments to their locations or schedules after three months of employment. An employer should not undertake retribution against any employee who does this.

2. When you assign an employee a shift and the notice is less than 96 hours from the start of the job, he/she has a right to refuse.

3. It is now the duty of employers to keep updated records showing the times and dates of employees’ work schedule.

Banned sick notes

As a business owner, you no longer have a right to request a sick note when an employee calls in sick. This has been made into law to enable employee's avert the hustle of getting a note. Prior to this, sick employees had to work because of not having a doctor’s note which prolonged the sickness and even led to the spread of contagious illnesses like the flu and colds.

If you own a business, it is up to you to understand how the new labor laws will affect those working for you. Above are just a few of the changes. You ought to research more to realize the full effect of the new laws.