How do I report my boss? Can I ask a colleague questions after hours? Lawyer answers common questions about Ontario’s new labor rules – .

How do I report my boss? Can I ask a colleague questions after hours? Lawyer answers common questions about Ontario’s new labor rules – .

Ontario’s new Work for Workers Act is designed to help people achieve a better work-life balance.

But exactly how that happens will, in some ways, be left to individual companies.

Driven in part by pandemic lockdown restrictions that have forced the switch to remote working and blurred the line between office and personal time, Bill 27 was passed on Tuesday and will become law when it receives the Royal Assent of the Lieutenant Governor.

The legislation includes a requirement that workplaces with 25 or more employees implement a written “disconnect from work” policy.

Muneeza Sheikh, senior partner at employment and labor law firm Levitt Sheikh, told The Star how the legislation will impact employees and employers.

Questions and answers

When does this new legislation come into force?

So, as I understand it, employers have no pressure to put the policy in place until six months after the Workers Act has received Royal Assent, so they have a full six months after receiving the assent, plus the 2022 grace period.

Regulations regarding the application and scope of the legislation and the scope of the new requirements, from which categories of employees are excluded, are expected to be unveiled (soon).

What does this mean for employers?

This is what I say to my employer clients: while the bill certainly benefits employees, there is no intention to respond completely in a punitive manner to employers. It’s going to be a long time to get it right.

How will these new rules be applied?

There are a lot of labor lawyers racking their brains, and I don’t think we’ll be able to have the full scope of something like this until we have a few rulings published.

It’s a guess, but I suspect what will happen is following a complaint there will be an investigation by the Ministry of Labor and there could be a warning and if you have the same employer with the same violations again and again, I think that’s when we’re going to start imposing monetary fines.

When you look at violations of this nature, generally speaking, this is what the punitive landscape looks like.

What does this mean for employees? What if their boss continues to send emails outside of working hours or chooses to continue working late?

There has been so much talk during the pandemic about employees working from home, the fact that a lot of people are really suffering from mental health issues during this very difficult time and the stress associated with not being able to keep their jobs. We have seen hundreds of thousands of employees illegally laid off during the pandemic. So in my opinion the Working for Workers Act is the government’s response to saying that it is important for you to keep your job, but at the same time it is extremely important for you to have a healthy life outside of the workplace. job.

The biggest pitfall I see is that there will be no way to measure which employees choose to leave versus those who want to continue working because it is their preference.

There will be employees in the workplace who by nature or by preference can work longer, can engage in after-hours work-related communications, and then you can see them skyrocket in the workplace. of work in terms of professional development. And then the question is, are there going to be any complaints against the employees saying, well, everyone is supposed to log off from work. The measuring stick for employees could change.

What about workplaces with fewer than 25 employees?

I think the spirit of the law is to apply to everyone. But in terms of enforceability, this would only be applicable to employers with 25 or more employees, they would have to develop these written policies.

What other sections of this law are worth noting?

The other article that was probably the most interesting for me as a lawyer specializing in employment law is this restriction on the non-competition provision. In a way, it is a provision of this bill that is moot. Because most lawyers specializing in employment law will tell you that the non-competition provisions, in general, in Canada, are quite difficult to apply… because they unfairly restrict the activity of a person after leaving the workplace. ‘a company.

We see companies struggling to retain their employees. Perks like free gym memberships or a cool office vibe don’t have the same weight in a post-pandemic world. What do you think are the things that employees are looking for and what can companies do to prevent good workers from leaving?

I think employee morale is always boosted by flexibility. The narrative has always been, before the pandemic, that those who work remotely don’t work as efficiently as those who are in the office. And in some ways, the pandemic has really helped demystify that notion.

If you can come up with some sort of step-by-step approach, as you see from a number of private and public sector employees, who work partly remotely and partly in the office, I think a lot of employees really appreciate a model. hybrid.


Conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.


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