Ontario’s New Bill 27 - Written Policy on Disconnecting from Work
On October 25th of 2021, the Government of Ontario passed the first reading of the Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021. This act introduced by the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, is amending various statutes with respect to employment and labour.
The Schedule amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000. New Part VII.0.1 of the Act imposes a requirement on employers that employ 25 or more employees to have a written policy with respect to disconnecting from work. The term “disconnecting from work” is defined to mean not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.
An employer that, on January 1 of any year, employs 25 or more employees shall, before March 1 of that year, ensure it has a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work that includes the date the policy was prepared and the date any changes were made to the policy. Employers will be required to provide a copy of the written policy with respect to disconnecting from work to each employee within 30 days of preparing the policy or, if an existing written policy is changed, within 30 days of the changes being made.
By introducing bill 27, the Government of Ontario is hoping to promote a work-life balance in a world where technology is present in our daily lives. This policy promoting “employee disconnection” after working hours is expected to benefit Ontario employees, by incentivizing them to spend more time with their families. However, this can become a challenging situation for employers, as it is difficult to assess when working hours are exceeded in flexible or atypical working arrangements. Indeed, this is an issue that has not been covered in Bill 27 yet.
Furthermore, New Part XV.1 of the Act prohibits employers from entering into employment contracts or other agreements with an employee that are, or that include, a non-compete agreement. Although, there are certain exceptions such as: If there is a sale of a business or a part of a business and, as a part of the sale, the purchaser and seller enter into an agreement that prohibits the seller from engaging in any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that is in competition with the purchaser’s business after the sale and, immediately following the sale, the seller becomes an employee of the purchaser, subsection (1) does not apply with respect to that agreement.
This is a summary of some notable changes that would come into force on the day the Working for Workers Act, 2021, receives Royal Assent. The First Reading for Bill 27 was performed on Monday, October 25 of 2021. The Second Reading is expected in the near future for further consideration and public consultation.
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