Bill 148, Ontario’s Fair Workplace, Better Jobs Act, contains a number of changes that will directly affect OSSTF/FEESO members. Those changes most likely to have an impact on our members are the changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Although not all of the changes will apply to every member, the changes generally apply to any collective agreement that does not provide a greater right or benefit for each issue.
The increase in minimum wage to $14 will affect some OSSTF/FEESO members in support staff Bargaining Units, as will the change in the calculation of public holiday pay. The latter change will mean that those who don’t work every day in the period leading up to a public holiday will receive the average of the pay for the days they actually worked, which will mean an increase in their holiday pay in some cases.
The increased vacation entitlement will also benefit those members who do not have any greater provision in their collective agreements. Since teachers and occasional teachers are specifically exempt from the vacation pay provisions of the ESA, the improvements will not apply to them unless there are certain specific references to vacation pay in the local collective agreement.
Improvements in pregnancy and parental leaves were also introduced, and allow increased entitlement to pregnancy leave in cases of stillbirth or miscarriage, as well as the ability to significantly lengthen parental leave by up to an additional 26 weeks over what was previously available to parents.
The changes to the personal emergency leave provisions in the ESA will now provide paid sick leave to members who did not previously have access to such leaves.
In addition, a number of other leaves were introduced or improved, including domestic and sexual violence leave, critical illness leave, child death leave, child-related disappearance leave, and family medical leave.
Several other changes will take effect in the coming months and years. These include the introduction of rules on equal pay for equal work that prevent paying employees different rates based solely on employment status. There are also new requirements surrounding scheduling rules, as well as payment of employees who are on call.
Local leaders will be examining collective agreements to ensure compliance with the new legislation.