On Thursday Oct. 5, the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce held an information session on what to expect when Bill 148 becomes law.
Bill 148 is called the Fair Workplace Better Jobs Act, but is more commonly known as the legislation that will be raising minimum wage. It will be doing so much more than that though.
“I think we can all agree, small businesses are the backbone of this country,” said Dave Hands, from Small Business Consulting. “We see harmful and unintended consequences that can come of this legislation.”
The legislation will introduce a number of changes throughout the next two years. On Jan. 1, 2018, the minimum wage will be raised to $14 an hour, there will be changes with vacation pay, personal emergency leave. In April 2018, the legislation will also introduce an equal pay for equal work system.
Equal pay for equal work means that a part-time employee and a full-time employee must be paid the same amount if they are doing the same work. This does not mean that all employees will be earning the same amount. Employers can ensure that pay differs by taking seniority and merit into account.
An updated salary grid will need to be in place before the equal pay for equal work is implemented on April 1.
Of course, these are not the only changes that employers and employees can expect to see.
There will also be changes to the way that public holiday pay is determined. The new equation for determining public holiday pay is the total regular wages in the pay period divided by the number of days worked in that pay period.
“It doesn’t make sense to anybody,” said Jock Climie, a partner at the Edmond Harden law firm. “Whenever I get question about stat holidays I have to sit down at my desk, ask my assistant to hold all my calls and close the door because it’s going to take a while.”
As time goes on and employers and employees are able to spend more time with the bill, more specifics will be added.
“This is something that will get litigated more and more and more,” said Climie.
In order for this bill to become law, it must be passed by Dec. 13 in order to meet the timeline. It is currently on its second reading.
“Bill 148 is a throwback to a different era,” said MPP Randy Hillier. “Whether we like it or not, the economy has changed since 30 years ago. This legislation is trying to deal with the problems of 30 years ago.”
Climie put a focus on a change requiring more recordkeeping from employers under the new legislation.
“You don’t want to mess around with this aspect of it. It is too easy to get caught,” said Climie.
If one of the 175 new enforcement officers fines an employer, it will carry a much higher fine than before and the employer will be unable to fight it in court since it is not a provincial offence.
Hillier urges people to spend the time and share any grievances. “Send your own thoughts. You have to ring their bell down there. Pick up the phone. You might not get through, you probably won’t get through, but it makes a difference,” said Hillier.
The bill can be found online at www.ontla.on.ca