Have your say: Are new labour law changes a concern for employers?

New labour law changes, particularly enhanced leave provisions in Ontario, are likely to increase costs and administrative challenges for employers, according to one expert.

Amendments in Ontario’s Bill 148, which took effect on Jan. 1, include 10 days of personal emergency leave, two of which are paid; a new domestic violence leave of 10 days, five of which are paid; an increase in family medical leave to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period; an increase in pregnancy leave for employees who experience a stillbirth or miscarriage to 12 weeks; and an increase of leave for a crime-related child disappearance to 104 weeks.

Read: What do Canadian provinces offer around sick, emergency leave?

Stan Fainzilberg, an associate with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in Toronto, says the new leave provisions will create scheduling challenges for employers. In particular, he notes that the two paid days under the new personal emergency leave policy will put pressure on employers. “That’s obviously an increased burden on the employer because not only do you have to find the substitute for those two days for the employee, but you’re essentially also paying that employee for that time as well,” he says.

Ontario’s Bill 148 also includes a rise in the minimum wage to $14 an hour and an increase in paid vacation to three weeks per year after five years of service. “Like many things, the new Bill 148 does increase the financial burden on employers,” says Fainzilberg. But he notes the increase to the minimum wage, in particular, is good for everyone. 

“Because, generally speaking, people who make minimum wage spend every dollar that they earn. And so by putting that money right back into the economy . . . yes, you’ll have greater expenses but you will also see greater benefits. Obviously, time will tell if that comes to pass. I personally believe it makes sense.”

Read: Sounding Board: Ontario’s Bill 148 adds administrative burdens, costs for employers

Another amendment in Bill 148 prevents employers from requiring medical notes from employees taking personal emergency leave. Fainzilberg says employers will face an added burden of tracking absences and holding absent employees accountable.

What do you think? Will the new labour law changes create a significant financial and administrative burden for employers or will they be able to handle them without much trouble? Have your say in this week’s online poll.

The last poll question of 2017 asked which workplace holiday activity employees appreciate the most. While the majority (55 per cent) of respondents cited a traditional Christmas party as the most appreciated activity, 18 per cent said their employees don’t enjoy workplace holiday events. Charitable activities and ugly sweater days both garnered 10 per cent of the vote, while eight per cent cited a potluck lunch as the most appreciated activity. And no respondents voted for gift exchanges, cookie swaps or desk decorating.

Read: All your employees really want for Christmas is . . .