Thoughts on some recent legislative updates

The “Working for Workers Act” in Ontario, which came into force in 2022, has a number of new requirements about which employers and employees alike should be aware.

The first requirements relate to some of the changes in the work environment, with many more people working remotely and the rise of delivery services. In order to better protect these employees:

Disconnecting from policy for businesses with 25 or more people:

         If a business has 25 workers as of January 1st of any year, a written policy must be in place by March 1st of that year with respect to employees disconnecting from work (in 2022 the deadline was June 2nd). Activities to be disconnected from could include phone calls, e-mails, and video calls. Copies of the policy are to be provided to all employees within 30 days of the initial policy or in the event of any changes. If a policy is no longer required, copies are to be kept for three years.

Access to washrooms for truckers and food delivery couriers:

         The owner of a workplace shall ensure access to a washroom for any worker delivering anything to or collecting anything from the workplace for delivery elsewhere. This can be superseded by safety concerns such as where access to the workplace requires protective equipment.

Other requirements under the Act relate to a recognition that many businesses are having trouble finding the workers that they need to operate. Some workers are reluctant to change employers, other workers have credentials that are not recognized in Canada, and many businesses are now reliant on recruitment and temporary help to fill their needs.

Banning non-compete agreements:

         No employer in Ontario may enter into an employment contract or other agreement that includes a non-compete clause. There are exceptions in cases where a business (or part of a business) is sold and where employees are executives of a business.

Licensing framework for temporary help agencies:

         Temporary work agencies and recruiting firms are now required to be licenced, and clients need to ensure that agencies and recruiters they use are licenced. The licencing framework is described in the Act.

Making it easier for internationally trained individuals to practice in their profession:

         Requirements for Canadian experience are no longer in place unless determined by the Minister to be needed for reasons of public health and safety. Information and assistance are to be provided to internationally trained professionals in joining a regulated profession in Ontario. This is obviously going to vary immensely depending on the regulated profession.