On June 1, 2017, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which proposes significant amendments to Ontario’s employment and labour legislation. The Bill was introduced following the publication of the final report from the Changing Workplaces Review, which recommended extensive changes to modernize Ontario’s workplace laws.
If passed, Bill 148 would make a number of modifications to the leaves of absence provisions in the Employment Standards Act, 2000, SO 2000, c. 41 (“ESA”). In particular, the personal emergency leave provision, which currently provides up to 10 days’ unpaid leave per year for employees of employers who employ at least 50 employees, would be modified to:
(a) remove the 50-employee threshold, thereby granting personal emergency leave to all employees covered by the ESA;
(b) provide that an employee’s first two days of personal emergency leave in each calendar year shall be paid at his or her regular rate;
(c) expand the circumstances for which an employee may take personal emergency leave to include sexual or domestic violence, or the threat of sexual or domestic violence, experienced by the employee or a family member; and
(d) prohibit employers from requiring an employee to provide a medical certificate to verify his or her request for personal leave (although an employer would still be permitted to ask an employee to provide “evidence reasonable in the circumstances”).
In addition, the maximum duration of family medical leave would be increased from eight weeks in a 26-week period to 27 weeks in a 52-week period, and the existing crime-related child death or disappearance leave would be split into two separate unpaid leaves—child death leave and crime-related child disappearance leave—of up to 104 weeks each. The entitlement to child death leave would no longer be limited to circumstances where an employee’s child has died as a result of crime, but instead would be available whenever an employee’s child (under 18 years of age) has died for any reason.