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Bill 148-Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 and What has Changed

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Bill 148 legislation makes a number of changes to both the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including raising the minimum wage and providing employees with various benefits/rights.

The following areas have been affected:

  • Equal pay for equal work based on employment status and assignment employee status

  • One week’s notice or pay in lieu of notice for employees of temporary help agencies if longer-term assignments end early

  • Fairer scheduling rules

  • A minimum of three weeks’ vacation after 5 years with the same employer

  • Up to 10 individual days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave, without the fear of losing their job when an employee or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence

  • Expanded personal emergency leave to all workplaces regardless of number of employees

  • Unpaid leave to take care of a critically ill family member

Bill 148 made changes to several aspects of legislation. The bill received Royal Assent from Ontario Legislation in November 27, 2017. Below you will find details on what has changed.

Minimum Wage

The general minimum wage has changed from $11.60 to $14.00 January 1, 2018 and $15.00 effective January 1, 2019. Learn more about minimum wage changes.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

As of April 1, 2018, this is what has changed:

Employers cannot pay one employee less than another employee, because their employment status is different, if performing equal work. Example of difference of employment status are; number of regular hours worked, terms of employment (seasonal, temporary, permanent, or casual). They cannot pay their assignment employees less than what is paid directly by the client business employees, if they both perform equal work.

Equal work means they employees perform the same kind of work in the same establishment, their work requires the same skill, effort, and responsibility, and the work is performed under similar working conditions.

If employees believe they are not receiving equal pay for equal work, they may ask the employer to review the rates. The employer must respond in 2 ways. They must either adjust the employee’s pay or they must give the employee a written response that sets out the reasons why the rates are different.

Some exceptions to consider are the rules do not apply to employers if the difference in the rate of pay is made on the basis of a seniority or merit system, systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, or other factors (sex and employment status will not qualify as an exception).

For more information please visit equal pay for equal work.

Temporary Help Agencies

Effective January 1, 2018, temporary agencies are now required to give their employees at least one week’s written notice or pay in lieu of notice, or a combination, if an assignment, originally estimated period (last 3 months or longer), ends earlier.

Notice or pay in lieu is not necessary if the temporary agency offered the employee another assignment that was reasonable and lasted at least one week.

Temporary agencies do not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice if there is: willful misconduct by the assignment employee, an unforeseeable event that makes it impossible to perform the assignment, or the assignment is terminated because of a strike or lock-out at the location of the assignment.

You may find more information regarding temporary help agencies.


As of January 1, 2019, the following will change. The legislation will allow employees to request a schedule or location change once they have been employed for 3 months without fear of being penalized or refuse shifts if their employer asks them to work with less than 96 hours’ notice without fear of retaliation, with certain exceptions.

The employer will also be required to pay wages to the employees for 3 hours of work if the employee; regularly works more than 3 hours a day, shows up for work and works less than 3 hours or not at all (example the shift is cut short), the shift is cancelled within 48 hours of their scheduled start time, with certain exceptions, or is scheduled to be on-call but, despite being available to work, is either not called in to work or works less than 3 hours. This will be required for each 24-hour period the employee is on call.

Check details about scheduling and the exceptions for scheduling.

Vacation Time

Effective January 1, 2018 employees are now entitled to 3 weeks of paid vacation after 5 years with the same employer. Vacation legislation rarely changes so this is a nice incentive for employees.

Learn more about vacation time and pay.

Personal Emergency Leave

Effective January 1, 2018 all employees have the right to take up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave, each calendar year due to illness, injury and other emergencies/urgent matters. The rule previously only applied to workplaces with 50 or more employees. In addition to the 10 personal emergency leave days per year, including 2 paid days if the employee has been employed for 1 week or longer (7 days).

Learn more about personal emergency leave.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

Effective January 1, 2018, an employee employed at least for 13 consecutive weeks is entitled up to 10 individual days of leave and up to 15 weeks of leave if the employee or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence. The first 5 days of leave, each calendar year, will be paid, the rest will be unpaid.

Employment Status

Effective November 27, 2017, employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors will have to prove that an individual is not an employee. This addresses cases where employers treat employees as if they are self-employed and not entitled to ESA protections.

Learn more about employee status.

Footwear with an Elevated Heel

As of November 27, 2017, employers cannot require workers to wear footwear with an elevated heal (for example high heels) unless they are required for the worker’s safety. However, this does not apply to employers of workers in the entertainment advertising industries.

How Employment Standards Act is Enforced

This is what is changing:

Stepping up enforcement to make sure these new rules are followed, the Ministry of Labour will focus on employers who compete unfairly by breaking the law; protecting the majority of the employers that do follow the rules from experiencing these unfair competitions that do not; and by launching a program to educate both employees and small to medium-sized businesses about their rights and obligations; and hiring up to 175 employment standards officers. Once there are enough employment standards officers, the program will resolve all claims within 90 days, inspect 1 in 10 workplaces every year, and assist new employers to comply with ESA.

Learn more about enforcement of ESA.

Employee Contact

Under the new legislation the employee no longer is required to contact their employer before filing claims. The Director of Employment Standards can no longer refuse to assign an Employment Standards Officer to investigate an ESA claim due to insufficient information from the claimant.

Overtime Pay

Effective January 1, 2018, employees who hold more than one position with an employer and working overtime must be paid at the rate for the position they are working at during the overtime period.

Learn more about overtime pay.

Public Holiday Pay

Effective January 1, 2018, the new act simplified the formula for calculating public holiday pay, so employees are entitled to their average regular daily wages. Most employees who qualify are entitled to take 9 nine days off work and be paid public holiday pay. Alternatively, the employee can agree electronically or in writing to work on the holiday and be paid: public holiday pay plus premium pay for all hours worked on the public holiday and not receive another day off (called a “substitute” holiday); or be paid their regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday and receive another substitute holiday for which they must be paid public holiday pay. The formula to be used is:

Learn more about public holiday pay.

There have been other changes in Bill 148 and you can find out more from this article.

Learn more about the changes to ESA act.

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