On Monday, October 25, 2021, the Ontario Government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021. If passed, this Bill will require employers with 25 employees or more to develop “disconnecting from work” policies within six months from its effective date. Such policies may include reasonable expectations about response time for emails, and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they are not working.
If the legislation is passed, Ontario would become the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt such a law. The stated rationale behind the Bill is to make it easier for Ontarians to relax, improve mental health, and spend quality time with loved ones.
If passed, the proposed legislation would also prohibit non-competition covenants in employment contracts. The Government states that these provisions restrict work opportunities and suppress wage growth. Non-competition clauses would still be enforceable in the context of the sale of a business, and employers would be free to include restrictions on the solicitation of customers, employees and other business partners.
The proposed Working for Workers Act, 2021 also includes a wide assortment of other measures. The stated intent of these measures is to:
- enhance the ability of internationally-trained individuals to practice in regulated professions within Ontario by removing some barriers to entry, such as Canadian experience requirements;
- protect vulnerable workers from exploitation by mandating that all recruiters and temporary help agencies hold a licence to operate;
- require business owners to allow delivery workers to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve;
- allow surpluses in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Insurance Fund to be distributed over certain levels to businesses; and
- enable the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to collaborate with the Canada Revenue Agency to streamline remittances for businesses.
We will keep you updated on the status of this Bill.