Significant changes planned by Bill 27 in Ontario


On November 30, 2021, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 27, Labor for Workers Act 2021. Bill 27 amends several laws, including the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

According to the government, this legislation achieves a number of objectives, including improving the work-life balance of employees, prohibiting non-competition agreements to increase competition in the markets for business and labor, facilitating the registration of internationally trained professionals and implementing a licensing regime for temporary help. agencies and recruiters.

Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000

Right to disconnect from work

The Labor for Workers Act 2021requires employers with 25 or more employees at the start of the year to implement a written “work disconnection” policy regarding disconnection from work during non-working hours. Under the law, the term “disconnection from work” is defined as “participating in work-related communications, including emails, phone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, in order to to free himself from the execution of the work. Once an employer prepares or amends a policy, employers will have 30 days to share copies of that policy with employees. Employers must also provide this policy to new employees within 30 days of being hired.

Once the law receives Royal Assent, employers will have six months from that date to develop their written policies. After this first year, employers will have to prepare their policies no later than March 1 of each year.

The regulations that will be promulgated to set out the content of the policy have not yet been published. As such, it is not yet clear what specific steps employers need to take to ban after-hours work and whether they will be restricted in terms of employees who may or may not be permitted or required to perform work after. regular hours, in addition to other outstanding issues.

Prohibition of non-competition agreements

Employers are prohibited by law from including non-compete clauses in any agreement they enter into with an employee. In the event of violation of this provision, the non-competition agreement will be void.

There are two exceptions to this rule.

  1. Employees exercising a managerial function are excluded from this provision. An “executive” is an employee who holds the position of chief executive officer, including that of president, chief executive officer and chief executive officer.

  2. There is also an exception where there has been a “sale of a business or part of a business” (which includes a lease). If the buyer and seller enter into a non-compete agreement and the seller becomes an employee of the buyer immediately after the sale, this prohibition will not apply.

Once Royal Assent is received, the non-competition ban is deemed to come into effect on October 25, 2021.

With the passage of the law, Ontario became the first province to require “work disconnection” policies and outright ban non-compete agreements.

Licensing requirements for temporary help agencies

The law specifies that temporary help agencies and recruiters must now apply for a license. Anyone wishing to engage with a temporary help agency or recruiter should ensure that they are licensed, as knowingly doing business with an unauthorized agency or recruiter is prohibited by law.

Temporary help agencies or recruiters can be refused a license and have their license revoked or suspended for a number of reasons, including:

  • use recruiters who charge fees to foreign nationals;

  • providing “false or misleading information in an application”; and

  • situation in which the Director of Employment Standards has reasonable grounds to believe that “the applicant will not conduct their business with honesty and integrity and in accordance with the law”.

If applicants contest the denial, revocation or suspension of their license, they can apply to the Ontario Labor Relations Board for a review.

These changes will come into force on the day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Changes to the Foreign Nationals Employment Protection Act 2009

Prohibition on levying recruitment fees

In order to protect foreign nationals from predatory recruitment practices, the law prohibits employers and recruiters from knowingly using the services of recruiters who charge foreign nationals for their services.

A recruiter who charges a fee, and an employer or recruiter who violates this prohibition will be required to reimburse the fees charged to the foreign national.

These changes will come into force on the day the Labor for Workers Act 2021 receives royal assent.

Changes to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006

Facilitate the registration of internationally trained professionals

In order to facilitate the registration of internationally trained professionals, the law specifies that Canadian experience will not be a qualification for registration in a regulated profession. Regulated professions can apply to be exempted from this rule “for the purposes of public health and safety in accordance with the regulations”. Regulated professions will also be required to develop expedited registration processes to facilitate emergency preparedness.

The Fairness Commissioner will also assess language proficiency requirements to ensure that tests in French or English do not violate the regulations.

These changes will come into force on the day the law receives Royal Assent.

Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Require access to toilets for delivery people

Under the law, a new requirement is created if a person requests access to the toilet during the delivery or pickup of a package at a business. Companies covered by the law must allow the use of their toilets.

Businesses will be exempt from this requirement if:

  • Toilet sharing is unreasonable or impractical for health and safety reasons;

  • The context makes toilet sharing unreasonable or impractical; Where

  • The delivery person should enter an apartment to use the washroom.

These changes will come into force on the day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

Distribution of excess insurance fund

The law includes a provision that specifies that if there is a surplus in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s insurance fund, that surplus can be distributed among eligible employers. The Insurance Commission will have the discretion to determine when and how much to grant to eligible employers, based on factors such as compliance with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Based on these factors, the Insurance Commission will also be empowered to exclude any qualifying employer from the allocation of surplus funds. Employers will not be able to appeal funding decisions made by the Insurance Commission in this regard.

These changes will come into force on the day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Changes to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act

Increase the collection of information related to “agriculture, food or rural affairs”

Under the law, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has the power to “collect information, including personal information, directly or indirectly” related to “agriculture, food or rural affairs ”for emergency response and public health purposes. Personal information will not be collected, used or disclosed in cases where other sources of information are available to achieve the same purpose.

These changes will come into force on the day the law receives Royal Assent.

Next steps

Bill 27 received third reading on November 30, 2021. At the time of this article’s publication, the law has not yet received Royal Assent, but it likely will be shortly. Once Royal Assent is received, some changes take effect immediately, while others follow different timelines. Employers may want to start reviewing the new legislation, noting dates and important features about their organizations. Additionally, employers may wish to review their policies, practices and contracts to ensure compliance.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 336

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