New Legislation – Working for Workers Act, 2021

The government of Ontario has passed Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021, which amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and other legislation. The Bill has received royal assent as of December 2, 2021 and is now officially a statute.

Right to Disconnect

The Act imposes an obligation for employers who employ 25 or more employees to create and implement a right to disconnect from work policy. “Disconnecting from work” is defined as follows:

not engaging in work-related communications, including e-mails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.

The policy must be implemented within 6 months after the Working for Workers Act, 2021 receives royal assent, or by June 1, 2022. The policy must be provided to new employees within 30 days of the commencement of employment.

Prohibition against Non-Competition Agreements

The Act also prohibits employers from entering into non-competition agreements, or employment contracts which include a non-competition clause.

 A “non-compete agreement” is defined as:

an agreement, or any part of an agreement, between an employer and employee that prohibits the employee from engaging in any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that is in competition with the employer’s business after the employment relationship between the employee and the employer ends.

The prohibition does not apply to executives which are defined as:

“any person who holds the office of chief executive officer, president, chief administrative officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer, chief legal officer, chief human resources officer or chief corporate development officer, or holds any other chief executive position”.

This prohibition also does not apply where the non-competition clause or agreement forms part of a sale of business transactions and the seller becomes an employee of the purchaser.

Employers should review their employment contracts and workplace policies to ensure that they comply with this change to the ESA.

Temporary Help Agencies

Temporary help agencies and recruiters will be required to hold a license in order to operate a temporary help agency.  An agency or recruiter can apply to the Director of Employment Standards for a license. The legislation sets out the details which must be included in the application.

If you have any questions about the new legislation, please contact us.