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Posted on February 21st 2006 in Legal Articles

Changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act

Changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act

In the 2001 Spring edition of Legal Issues we introduced you to the updated version of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. Recently, the government made several important changes to this legislation.

Effective February 1, 2005, Ontario’s minimum wage was increased from $7.15 an hour to $7.45 an hour. This increase is part of the government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $8 an hour by 2007.

The second change, which comes into effect on March 1, 2005, affects the number of hours an employer can require its employees to work. Until now employees were not generally required to work more than eight hours a day and 48 hours a week and they had to be paid overtime once they had worked more than 44 hours in a week. Under the new rules, if an employer wants an employee to work more than 48 hours a week, the employer must:
• Give non-unionized employees an information sheet, published by the Ministry of Labour’s director of employment standards and which highlight rights and responsibilities regarding hours of work and overtime pay.
• Obtain a written agreement from the employee, or the union, if the workplace is unionized.
• Receive approval from the director of employment standards.

In addition, if the employer wants to average an employee’s hours of work to determine overtime pay, an employer must obtain written agreement from the employee or union and receive an approval from the director of employment standards. There is no fee for the approval and applications can be made online.