Working for Workers Five Act, 2024: Proposed Changes Affecting Ontario Employers

  • Legislative updates
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Charlie Herrera Vacaflor

Charlie Herrera Vacaflor, Employment Law & HR Content Senior Consultant

(Last updated )

On May 6, 2024, the Ontario government introduced Bill 190, Working for Workers Five Act, 2024. If passed, this legislation will have major implications for the way employers handle several HR and health & safety processes. It is important to note that Working for Workers Five Act, 2024 is not yet in effect. Below, we’ve outlined the amendments to the current Employment Standards Act (ESA) based on the proposed Bill.  

Proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) 2024 

New recruitment practices 

  • A publicly advertised job posting must include a statement disclosing whether the posting is for an existing vacancy or not. 
  • An employer interviewing for a publicly advertised job position must furnish the applicant with specific information within a set timeframe. 
  • Interviewees for publicly advertised job positions are entitled to receive a response after the interview within a certain period.  
  • Employers have a duty to retain copies of all prescribed information provided during an interview for a three-year period. 

Sick leave 

  • An employer is prohibited from requiring an employee who takes leave to provide a certificate from a professional health practitioner.  
  • However, employers are entitled to request other forms of reasonable evidence in the circumstances (e.g., attestation).  

Fines for ESA contraventions 

  • The maximum fine amount for non-compliant employers to be increased to $100,000 from $50,000. 
  • Penalty amounts for repeat offenders that have contravened the ESA three or more times to be increased to $5,000 from $1,000. 

Proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) 2024 

Employers are responsible for keeping all their employees safe while at work, including in the remote workplace. Keeping this in mind, the OHSA has been expanded to include the following: 

Workplace harassment / Workplace sexual harassment 

  • The definitions of “workplace harassment” and “workplace sexual harassment” are updated to include “virtual harassment” and “virtual sexual harassment” through the use of information and communications technology. 

Definition of work establishment 

  • Extending the scope of the OHSA to be also applicable to the private residence of a remote worker. 

Joint Health & Safety Committee 

  • Joint Health & Safety Committee meetings can occur virtually. 

Electronic posting  

  • Employers would be able to fulfill posting requirements related to the posting of the OHSA and explanatory materials released by the Ministry by having these readily accessible in electronic format.  

Changes affecting construction businesses 

Bill 190 Ontario also includes changes specific to construction workers and their health & safety working conditions. 

Maintenance standards for washrooms  

  • The definition of “washroom facility” has been amended to include washroom, toilet facility, urinal, shower, or other similar facility. 
  • Employers, including a constructor, shall ensure that washroom facilities in a project are maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.  
  • Employers, including a constructor, must keep, maintain, and make available records of the cleaning of the washroom facilities. 

Construction - Duty to provide menstrual products on the worksite (Approved) 

  • Construction employers must provide menstrual products at any project where work is expected to last three months or more and where 20 or more workers are regularly employed.  
  • Menstrual products include tampons and pads. These must be clear and hygienic and must be provided at one or more locations. Menstrual products must be reasonably accessible to employees at a location that guarantees reasonably amount of privacy.  

This regulatory amendment has been approved and will come into effect January 1, 2025.  

Proposed amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder benefit 

  • Expand presumptive coverage for occupational cancers, heart injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to wildland firefighters and wildland fire investigators. 
  • Extend presumptive coverage to prescribed firefighters and fire investigators for primary-site skin cancer provided that the worker had at least 10 years of service before being diagnosed.  

If these amendments come into effect at the beginning of 2025, employers will have a duty to ensure they adhere to the new legislation. Failure to comply will result in possible lawsuits, fines, and damages to the business’ reputation.  

Have questions about the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024? 

 Our experts can help you understand the new proposed Bill 190 and answer any questions you may have. Our advisors can also help you implement, update, and review company policies, as well as assist you with any HR, health & safety, and employee issues that may arise. Call 1 (833) 247-3652  today to learn more about how our services can benefit your business. 

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