Yesterday, the Ontario government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021, an omnibus bill focused on several labour issues (some of which predate the pandemic and some of which reflect the COVID-19 work environment). As this news continues to dominate the headlines, here is what you need to know about Ontario’s Working for Workers Act, 2021:
- All employers with 25 or more employees, as of Jan. 1 in any given year, will be required to have a written policy about an employee’s right to disconnect from their job at the end of the workday, by March 1 of that year.
- The banning of non-compete agreements that prevent people from exploring new work opportunities.
- Help remove barriers that deal primarily with Canadian experience requirements for internationally trained individuals to get licensed in a regulated profession and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills.
- Allow surpluses in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Insurance Fund to be distributed over certain levels to businesses, helping them cope with the impacts of COVID-19.
- Require recruiters and temporary help agencies to have a license to operate in the province to help protect vulnerable employees from being exploited.
- Require business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company washroom if delivering or picking up items.
- Allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to collect information related to the agri-food workforce to ensure the government can enhance the coordination of service (ex. vaccination and testing).
Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. If the proposed legislation is passed, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada, and one of the first in North America, to ban non-compete agreements in employment. Amendments made to remove barriers that inhibit employers from access to skilled talent is also worth noting, as this might be useful to various sectors struggling to access skilled talent.
Barring unforeseen events, this Act will be passed before the Legislature rises on December 9, 2021. The amendments to FARPACTA are open to comments until Nov. 22.