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Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017


On November 22, 2017, Ontario passed a significant labour legislation. Bill 148, Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017 makes a number of changes to both the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995. The Ministry of Labour has issued a news release announcing the passage of Bill 148 and launched a dedicated web page to help employees and employers understand how their employment rights and obligations will change as the various aspects of this new legislation come into force. 

In addition to minimum wage increases, Bill 148 carries a number of changes to current labour legislations. Although many changes will be effective on January 1, 2018, there are several changes with different effective dates. A full list of dates can be seen here.  

  • Minimum Wage Increase – As of January 1, 2018, the provincial minimum wage will raise to $14 per hour and will raise again to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019. Liquor servers, students under 18, hunting and fishing guides and people working from their homes for an employer would continue to be paid a special minimum wage rate, however, that rate “will increase by the same percentage as the general minimum wage,” the province has said.    

Minimum Wage Categories CURRENT: Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018 Jan 1 2019 to Sept. 30, 2019
General Minimum Wage
Students under 18 who work not more than 28 hours per week when school is in session, or work during a school break or summer holidays 

Liquor Servers 
  • Scheduling – Bill 148 contains changes to how employers can schedule employee shifts.  For example, when an employee has worked somewhere for more than three months, the law allows them to ask for schedule or location changes, “without fear of reprisal,” the government says. It also sets out scheduling rules that will require employers to pay an “on-call” worker for three hours of work if he/she is not called in. The same applies to a worker whose shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start. Effective: January 1, 2019. 

  • Vacation — Bill 148 contains a number of sections establishing rules around leaves and holidays. Employers are required to provide their employees a minimum of three weeks of paid vacation if the employee has been employed for five years or more.

  • Personal Emergency Leave -  Personal emergency leave will be extended to all workers, not just those at a business with 50 or more employees. Bill 148 would entitle all workers to 10 personal emergency leave days a year, with two of those days paid. Employers will not be allowed to ask for their employees to give them a sick note when they take that leave, the government says. 

  • Domestic or sexual violence leave -  For an individual who has been employed by an employer for at least 13 consecutive weeks, they are entitled to up to 10 days leave, as noted above. In addition, one is entitled to up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee or a child of the employee experiences domestic or sexual violence or has experienced a threat of domestic or sexual violence.  

  • Equal pay for equal work – Bill 148 legislates that casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers get paid the same as full-time employees when they are “substantially” performing the same job for the same employer. Workers who suspect that they’re not receiving equal pay can request a “review” from their employer, following which the employer can adjust the employee’s pay or be forced to issue a written response as to why they disagree a change is needed. The legislation also says employers can not cut employee pay in order to comply with the law. Effective: April 1, 2018. 

  • No more mandatory high heels – Bill 148 includes a section to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act that block employers from forcing workers to wear high heels, “unless it is required for the worker to perform his or her work safely.” An exception will be made for employers looking for a “performer” in the entertainment and advertising industries, the law says

  • To ensure its new rules are followed, the government says they will hire up to 175 additional employment standards officers. When those new officers are hired, the government says it is aiming to perform inspections at one out of every 10 Ontario businesses. We have been advised educational training for new officers will be completed mid January 2019. 

  • Collective agreements do not have to come into compliance with the new labour standards until the agreements expire or Jan. 1, 2020 – whichever comes first.  

Certain provisions of Bill 148 that amend the ESA come into force prior to January 1, 2018:
  • the employee classification requirements (i.e. the prohibition on misclassification and reverse onus to prove an individual is not an employee) came into force immediately with Royal Assent (November 27, 2017)
  • the extended parental leave provisions come into force on December 3, 2017
  • the new Critical Illness Leave and consequential record-keeping amendments come into force on December 3, 2017.  

Changes to Part XII of the ESA (Equal Pay for Equal Work) will come into force on April 1, 2018. Among other things, these amendments will:

  • amend the existing equal pay for equal work provisions
  • add a requirement that provides for equal pay for equal work, regardless of difference in employment status or assignment employee status, applicable to both employers and temporary help agencies, with corresponding provisions protecting employees from reprisals.

ORHMA has taken action to protect your business with strong advocacy:
  • Outreach to all members of the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs through meetings; letters; deputation and submission.
  • Outreach with Premier, Cabinet – meetings; letters and ongoing dialogue with Advisors.
  • Financial contribution to the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) Economic Analysis.
  • ORHMA Membership Alerts, updates in our weekly Insider.
  • ORHMA engaging members – providing members with contacts, letters, key messages.
  • News Releases, social media outreach.

The Provincial Government has turned a blind eye to all economic analysis conducted on Bill 148 . We have and continue to advocate for our hospitality industry however, much our effort has fallen on deaf ears as the government truly believes this is the right thing to do politically.

We urge you and your hospitality business to prepare for implementation of Bill 148. For more information on how to prepare, click here.   Minimum wage will increase dramatically from $11.40 to $14.00 on January 1, 2018 and then to $15.00 by 2019.  The proposals include wage exceptions for specific classes of workers, including servers and students, consequently Bill 148 ensures all wages will increase together. Subsequent minimum wage increases after January 1, 2019 would continue to be tied to Ontario’s Consumer Price Index, providing reliable annual increases for workers and predictability for businesses.

ORHMA will ensure that all members remain informed on this legislation and will work to provide members with educational tools and training materials, together with the Ministry of Labour, to ensure compliance.   We are aware of the costs associated with Bill 148's implementation and the burden that Ontario's hospitality industry will undergo. We are committed to providing our members with cost reduction tools to assist with these changes. 

» Bill 148 & Ontario’s Hospitality Industry: Ask ORHMA 
As a member of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, your concerns are our concerns and are very important to us.   ORHMA has raised many concerns to the government about the rapid passage of Bill 148 and the lack of training material to ensure proper compliance for our members. The government has acknowledged the challenges faced for some employers in the hospitality and tourism sectors, given the seasonal and part-time nature of some operations. According to the Minister in a letter written to ORHMA, “We have heard your concerns, particularly in the hospitality sector regarding personal emergency leave and the scheduling provisions in Bill 148.”  We encourage members to communicate any concerns and ask any questions by emailing or calling the ORHMA office at (905) 361-0268.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

ORHMA’s Advocacy:

On Friday July 21, Tony Elenis, President & CEO of ORHMA represented Ontario’s hospitality industry at the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs hearings on Bill 148. Included in the written submission from ORHMA to the Standing Committee are the impacts of a $15 minimum wage in Ontario, recommendations to offset the costs that may arise with a higher minimum wage as well as Ontario’s hospitality performance in comparison to other jurisdictions. To read the full Q&A of Standing Committee, click here. 

 ORHMA Business Collaboration:

ORHMA & Ontario’s leading industry and sector associations work together through the Keep Ontario Working coalition, an initiative to motivate employers and employees alike to take a more active interest in Bill 148 and ensure that we are improving legislation to support workers’ rights and a prosperous economy.  Together, we financed an economic analysis, anticipated to be completed by August 2017. The province would not complete this necessary analysis.  ORHMA is active and advocating to protect employers. Members can visit   


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