The Working for Workers Four Act, 2023, to Provide Greater Protections for Employees in the Restaurant, Service and Hospitality Industry

The Ontario government is introducing legislation, that if passed, would update the province’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41 (“ESA”). The proposed updates under the Working for Workers Four Act, 2023, (“Act”) are aimed at protecting employees in the restaurant, service and hospitality industries.

According to studies, 1 in 20 diners left a restaurant without paying their bill, while gas thefts cost Ontario businesses over $3 million in 2022. Although it is a contravention of the ESA to deduct certain wages, requiring staff to pay for revenue loss from “dine and dashers”, it remains a common practice in the restaurant and service industry.

The Act aims to ensure employees’ earnings are safeguarded by prohibiting employers from deducting an employee’s wages from “dine and dash” and “gas and dash”, and would ban the practice of unpaid trial/training shifts.

The Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, David Piccini, stated, “[i]t is unacceptable that any worker in our province should have their wages deducted or see themselves put in harm’s way because of someone else’s criminal activity.”

In addition, the Ontario government is recommending changes to ensure service workers who are paid in tips are being paid what they are owed. This will include the requirement to ensure that employers may only share in employee-pooled tips if they are performing the same work as the staff. Ferurthermore, employs will be required to post in the workplace if they have a policy of sharing pooled tips.

With the use of digital payment platforms rising in the service industry, the proposed changes would also require employers who pay tips using direct deposit to allow their employees to select the account tips are to be deposited into. This would help workers avoid unwanted banking fees and provide them greater access to their tips when needed.