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Maintaining strong and clear employment laws in Ontario is crucial for ensuring fair treatment of workers and fostering a healthy, productive workforce. In recognition of this mandate, the Ontario legislature recently passed Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2024, (the “Working for Workers Four Act”) a statute that amends various workplace laws. This blog post will provide an overview of the new requirements and regulations introduced in the Act so employers can better understand their obligations.

The Background to Bill 149

In November 2023, the Ontario government introduced this legislation as part of its “Working for Workers” package. Previous legislation in this package included the Working for Worker’s Acts of 2021, 2022, and 2023. This legislation is the latest of the Ontario government’s ongoing efforts to modernize employment and labour legislation and enhance worker rights. The Working for Workers Four Act, received royal assent on March 21, 2024.

Amendments to Current Employment and Labour Legislation

Broadly, the Working for Workers Four Act, 2024 amends the following statutes:

The Working for Workers Four Act, 2024, primarily addresses changes to regulatory requirements in the hospitality industry.

New Requirements Related to the Employment Standards Act

The Working for Workers Four Act introduced new rules for employers, particularly for their hiring practices. Employers must now provide a compensation range when advertising an opening for a position and disclose whether artificial intelligence is being used in the hiring process. Employers must also maintain copies of their advertised positions for at least three years after a post is removed. Further, a job posting cannot exclusively require Canadian experience for a position, as this may amount to discrimination under the Human Rights Code.

Although these regulations are not yet in force, they are likely to have a significant impact on hiring practices in Ontario.

Specific Regulations for the Service and Hospitality Industry

The Working for Workers Four Act has implemented extensive regulations for employers in the service industry. These changes include:

  • Prohibitions on Wage Deductions – an employer can no longer deduct wages from an employee if they are staffed when a customer leaves without paying for services or goods, such as in a ‘dine and dash’ scenario.
  • Tips – as of June 21, 2024, an employer will be required to post their tip policies in the workplace and tips are to be paid by cash, paycheque, or direct deposit.
  • Trial Periods – it is now prohibited for employers to require prospective employees to undergo an unpaid ‘trial shift’ and the legislation explicitly amends the definition of “employee” to include such individuals, meaning the standards under the Employment Standards Act apply with regard to payment of minimum wages, overtime, etc.
  • Vacation Pay – an employee is entitled to seek and enter alternate vacation pay arrangements with their employer, which must be set out in an “agreement.”

It is crucial that employers in the service and hospitality industry (including restaurant owners) become familiar with these new requirements and comply with the required changes.

Changes to Injured Workers Legislation

Lastly, the Working for Workers Four Act includes changes that would allow for greater monetary compensation for injured workers. This includes reducing the employment duration for firefighters to qualify for compensation when diagnosed with esophageal cancer and “super indexing” for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits so that injured employees could receive increased compensation above the annual inflation rate. However, these changes have yet to come into force.

Contact Bader Law for Advice on Changes to Employment Standards and Legislation

The experienced employment lawyers at Bader Law regularly assist business owners and entrepreneurs to ensure compliance with their legal and financial obligations. We help employers understand and fulfill their obligations towards employees and workers while helping them manage and mitigate possible risks and liabilities. If you have questions about an employment law matter, contact us online or call us at (289) 652-9092 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.