'This legislation is another step towards cementing Ontario’s position as the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 2, 2021. It has since been updated.
The Ontario government on Tuesday passed new laws that it says will create a better work-life balance for workers and give them the "right to disconnect." According to CTV News, the newly-passed "Working for Workers Act" requires Ontario businesses with 25 or more employees to have a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday to help employees spend more time with their families. As per the publication, the government says that these workplace policies could potentially include clauses spelling out expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren't working.
Ontario’s ‘right to disconnect’ law has just been passed — so do you actually have the right to disconnect? https://t.co/PvKWe1crEE— Toronto Star (@TorontoStar) December 2, 2021
The act, which was first proposed in October, requires employers to make sure between January 1 and March 1 of each year that they have a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work. "Our government is working for workers every day to help them earn bigger paycheques, stay safe, and have better opportunities. We are determined to rebalance the scales and put workers in the driver’s seat of Ontario’s economic growth while attracting the best workers to our great province," Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said in a statement.
“Ontario cannot be a province where people burnout from endless work and family time comes last.”— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) October 25, 2021
Labour Minister introduces right to disconnect from work law.https://t.co/7qZD4yWM3p
"Through the passage of this legislation, Ontario is ensuring our labor laws keep pace with the acceleration of new technology, automation, and remote work. We are protecting workers’ rights while positioning Ontario as the top destination for global talent and investment," McNaughton added. "We have introduced measures to make it easier to spend time with family and loved ones, requiring most workplaces have a right to disconnect policy." In an effort to make it easier for workers to advance in their careers, Bill 27 also bans the use of non-compete agreements that prevent people from exploring other work opportunities.
Ontario is introducing Right to Disconnect legislation for employers with 25+ employees, and banning non-compete clauses.— Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce (@ChamberYGK) November 30, 2021
You might be wondering what 'right to disconnect' could mean for you as an employer. Via @globalnews: https://t.co/xVMQsf3jAV
Additionally, recruiters and temporary help agencies are now required to have a license to operate in the province to help protect vulnerable employees from being exploited, reports blogTO. It will also make it easier for internationally trained individuals to get licensed in a regulated profession and get access to jobs that match their qualifications and skills by removing some barriers—such as Canadian experience requirements—in their path. Meanwhile, in an effort to support delivery drivers, couriers and truck drivers who kept the essential supplies and economy running even through a pandemic, the act requires business owners to allow delivery workers to use a company's washroom if they are delivering or picking up items.
"To help workers advance their careers and earn more, we are banning businesses from using non-compete agreements," McNaughton said in his statement. "Other changes passed today will protect and support vulnerable workers by establishing mandatory licensing of recruiters and temporary help agencies, with the harshest penalties in the country for violators. For truckers and food delivery couriers who keep our world moving, we are enshrining their right to access washrooms in the businesses and restaurants they serve. Finally, we are making it easier for internationally trained individuals to practice in the professions they trained in, helping more businesses find the workers they need to drive economic prosperity for us all."
If we’re going to tackle the labour shortage facing our province and build back stronger, we need all hands on deck.— Monte McNaughton (@MonteMcNaughton) December 1, 2021
We’ve passed first-of-its kind legislation to make it easier for newcomers to start in-demand jobs in their profession.https://t.co/vHDrG3akEO
"This legislation is another step towards building back a better province and cementing Ontario’s position as a global leader, for others to follow, as the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family," he concluded. A government spokesperson told reporters that although the act hasn't yet received royal assent, it is expected to, later this week. The government is yet to announce timelines for when each law under the Working For Workers Act will come into effect but has said that there will be an initial grace period for businesses.