What the Working For Workers Act, 2021 Means for Ontario Workers

What the Working For Workers Act, 2021 Means for Ontario Workers Publié le 3 December 2021 Par

The provincial government of Ontario passed the Working for Workers Act, 2021, on November 30th, 2021. The act brings in several new requirements for employers and businesses owners in Ontario, with the intention of benefiting workers.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Working for Workers Act, 2021, means for Ontario workers, according to the provincial government.

“Require employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday to help employees spend more time with their families.”

Maintaining a proper work-life balance has been a challenge for many people, but the ongoing pandemic really served to amplify the seriousness of this issue. With the rise of remote work and hybrid working models, first as part of necessary distancing measures and now as a new mode of work for millions of people, it resulted in the complete removal of physical separation between work and home. This has blurred the lines separating work time and personal time, to the point of non-existence for some. This problem can further be compounded by managers and supervisors who expect answers to work-related questions at all times of the day.

A recent survey found that 21% of people have reported receiving work requests from managers outside of typical work hours, and 55% had sent and received emails from colleagues after work hours. Many employees feel compelled to complete these requests, regardless of the fact that it reduces their personal time, out of fear of being penalized. With very real danger caused by burnout and long working hours, the fact that the “right to disconnect” has passed into law will hopefully help employees work towards achieving a proper work-life balance.

“Ban the use of non-compete agreements that prevent people from exploring other work opportunities in order to make it easier for workers to advance in their careers.”

Many employment contracts feature what is called a non-compete clause, also known as a non-competition clause. This clause bars employers from beginning a new job with a competitor to their current employer or starting a business in the same sector as their current employer for a specific period of time. 

While the original claimed intent of these clauses was the prevention of certain types of  corporate espionage, labour activities have pointed out instances of their unfair use to stop people from exploring beneficial employment opportunities. While many non-compete clauses have not been held up in court, having legislation in place to prevent their use provides an additional layer of protection for Canadian workers.

“Help remove barriers, such as Canadian experience requirements, for internationally trained individuals to get licenced in a regulated profession and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills.”

There is currently a shortage of skilled workers in a number of different industries and job sectors, and one solution is to expand the search to qualified international workers. Many professions have specific requirements that individuals must meet in order to be eligible for immigration and employment in Canada

As the international job market continues to evolve, these requirements must be continuously updated in order to accurately reflect the skills and qualifications people earn and develop before immigrating to Canada. The goal of this legislation is to help newcomers find good jobs in the areas where they have training and qualifications.

“Require recruiters and temporary help agencies to have a licence to operate in the province to help protect vulnerable employees from being exploited.”

When people are looking for employment, a common option is to search for jobs through temp agencies and recruitment firms. While these companies can help people find employment, the unregulated nature of the industry leaves job seekers open to possible exploitation, including unfair compensation and wage theft. The goal of this legislation is to protect job seekers while still preserving temp agencies and recruitment firms as an option to find gainful employment.

“Require business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company’s washroom if they are delivering or picking up items. This supports the delivery drivers, couriers and truck drivers who have kept our essential supplies and economy going throughout the pandemic.”

Online shopping was already a popular alternative to do it in-person, and the pandemic caused the number of people online shopping to explode. With millions of people shopping online for everything from groceries to household essentials, it placed even more pressure on suppliers, distributors and delivery drivers. There are still widespread issues with the global supply chain, causing delays and other issues for sellers and consumers. These issues include a shrinking workforce of transportation workers as many retire or seek different types of employment.

Delivery drivers and couriers have found themselves under immense pressure, and pandemic restrictions reduce the number of available for important rest options while on the road. This legislation is aimed at providing drivers and couriers with more options and flexibility while making deliveries.

“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.”

The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is the board that governs workplace compensation for provincially regulated workplaces in the province of Ontario. The WSIB insurance fund is grown through collected insurance premiums and other funds, and exists to fund the needs of businesses in Ontario. With a current reserve of $1.6 billion, the goal of this legislation is to streamline the process for awarding funds to Ontario businesses in need. 

“Enable the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to work with entities, like the Canada Revenue Agency, to streamline remittances for businesses, enabling a way to give them an efficient one-stop-shop for submitting premiums and payroll deductions.”

Insurance premium rates would have potentially increased by almost 10% next year, dramatically raising costs for certain companies in Ontario. The WSIB will also reduce the insurance premium rates paid by Ontario businesses by $168 million overall in 2022. It will also aim to facilitate the simplification of the process for official fillings related to insurance premium and payroll.

“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 services such as vaccination and testing, and respond to issues that may arise.”

Ontario’s agri-food industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with reduced employment opportunities, lower sales and delays across the sector. A number of people working in the agri-food workforce have been at risk to COVID-19 due to their status as migrant workers, confusing the vaccination and testing process, leading to calls to make them an official priority group. This legislation has a stated aim to address issues facing the agri-food industry and provide additional projections for people in the workforce.

Hopefully, what the Working For Workers Act, 2021 means for Ontario workers is that they will have more flexibility and support in adapting to new forms of work. With additional protections from long-working hours and unfair management expectations, the goal is for Ontario workers to be able to create a better work-life balance, and grow professionally while maintaining a healthy personal life.

Find your new job!

Look for your perfect career match with the Jobillico job search!

Search Now!