In A Flash

Ontario Passes Fourth Working for Workers Act

On March 21, 2024, the Government of Ontario announced that it had passed the Working for Workers Four Act, 2023 (the “Act”), which implements a number of legislative amendments to several workplace laws creating further protections for workers in Ontario, as well as further obligations for employers. The changes expand on employee protections provided by a number of other Working for Workers Acts which have been passed by the Government of Ontario since 2021.

The key amendments for employers include the following:

New obligations and prohibitions on employers related to hiring

The changes establish a new section of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) setting out the following new requirements and prohibitions related to publicly advertised job postings:

  • Each job posting is required to include the expected range of wages or salary for the position;
  • Where the employer uses artificial intelligence to screen, assess or select applicants for a position, the employer is now required to include in the job posting a statement disclosing the use of artificial intelligence; and
  • As an expansion of some of the amendments enacted under the Working for Workers Act, 2021 (discussed further here), employers are prohibited from requiring Canadian experience in a publicly advertised job posting or an associated application form.
  • Employers are required to retain copies of all publicly advertised job postings for three years after access to the postings by the general public have been removed.

In addition, the terms “publicly advertised job posting” and “Artificial intelligence” are to be defined in forthcoming regulations.

These changes with respect to obligations and prohibitions on employers related to hiring are not currently in force and will take effect on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Enhanced wage protections for restaurant and service workers

The changes also provide enhanced wage protections for restaurant and service workers by:

  • Banning unpaid trial shifts, which are common in the restaurant and service industries, by amending the definition of “employee” under the ESA to explicitly define “training” as including work performed during a trial period;
  • Requiring employers to pay employee tips or gratuities only by cash, cheque payable only to the employee, or by direct deposit;
  • Mandating certain policy posting and retention requirements in workplaces where the employer has a policy in place with respect to the employer sharing in the pooling of tips or gratuities; and
  • Prohibiting employers from withholding or deducting from an employee’s wages where a customer of a restaurant, gas station, or other establishment has left without paying (i.e. a “dine and dash” or a “gas and dash”).

It is unclear what practical impact some of these changes will have as the ESA already prohibits employers from withholding or deducting from an employee’s wages or causing the employee to return the wages where the employee’s wages were withheld, deducted or required to be returned because of an employer cash shortage or lost property where a person other than the employee had access to the cash or property.

The changes with respect to tips or gratuities will come into effect on June 21, 2024. All other changes above are now in force with immediate effect.

Enhanced support for injured workers

Lastly, the Act has also implemented amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA”), which include:

  • Enabling “super indexing” increases to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) benefits above the annual rate of inflation to increase pay for injured workers; and
  • Enhancing cancer coverage for firefighters by establishing presumptions in respect of certain cancers for firefighters and fire investigators.

These changes with respect to enhanced support for injured workers are not currently in force and will take effect on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Other changes include those prescribed under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 that must be met to determine whether a regulated profession assesses qualifications in a manner that is objective, impartial and fair, as well as minor revisions to the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Sharon Canete, an Articling Student, in the firm’s Toronto office.

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