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An Update on Ontario’s Bill 27: Key Amendments for Employers

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Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

On November 30, 2021, Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“Bill 27”) passed the third reading stage, and many of its features will become law upon Royal Assent.[1] Bill 27 will create significant new employer obligations and rights for workers in Ontario.

In our previous bulletin, "Ontario Proposing Significant New Employment Law Changes in Bill 27", we discussed the changes Bill 27 would create in the workplace including introducing new employer policies regarding disconnecting from work, prohibitions on non-compete agreements, removing Canadian experience requirements, licensing recruiting and temporary help agencies, requiring washroom availability for delivery workers, using Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) surpluses to assist in COVID-19 recovery, streamlining employer remittances, and enhancing agricultural sector information gathering.

Prior to its passage, Bill 27 was amended by the Standing Committee on Social Policy (the “Committee”) as follows:  

  • Prohibition against using recruiters that charge fees: The Committee added a prohibition against recruiters and employers, in connection with the recruitment or employment of a foreign national, who knowingly use the services of a recruiter who has charged a fee to a foreign national. This complements section 7(1) of the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009, which prohibits a recruiter from directly or indirectly charging a foreign national for any service, good or benefit provided to the foreign national.[2]
  • Employers can have non-compete agreements with executives: In addition to permitting non-compete agreements where certain sale of business requirements are met, the Committee added a second exception to Bill 27’s prohibition against non-compete agreements. It will not be contrary to employment standards law for employers to have non-compete agreements with executives.[3] “Executives” have been 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.[4]
  • Applying for a licence and the ability to act as a recruiter: The Committee added recruiters to the list of individuals that cannot engage or use the services of a recruiter unless the recruiter holds a licence for that purpose.[5] Among other changes, additional requirements have been added to ensure that applicants are aware that recruiters cannot charge a fee for any service, good or benefit provided to the foreign national.[6] 
  • Refusal to issue or renew a licence to a recruiter: The Committee also provided the Director of Employment Standards with the ability to refuse to issue or renew the licence of an applicant that has charged a fee to a foreign national or engaged or used the services of any person, other than an employee of the applicant, that has ever charged a fee or collected a fee charged to a foreign national.[7]
  • Agricultural sector information gathering: The Committee narrowed the purposes for the collection and use of personal information as it relates to the agricultural sector. These purposes include: (i) food safety, (ii) animal health or human health, and (iii) economic, environmental, or social interests.[8]

Next Steps Employers Should Now Consider

As previously stated, Bill 27 will have implications for employers’ obligations to their employees as well as on employees’ rights in the workplace. Applicable employers will need to start preparing policies on employees’ rights to disconnect from work, review practices with respect to non-compete agreements, and abide by new recruiting and temporary help agency rules (as applicable).

If you have questions regarding Bill 27 or how it will impact your workplace, please contact the authors or your regular Fasken lawyer.

[1] Royal Assent had not been granted at the time of publication.

[2] SO 2009, c. 32, s. 7(1).

[3] Employment Standards Act, 2000, SO 2000, c. 41, s. 67.2(4)-(5).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid at s. 74.1.2(2).

[6] Ibid at s. 74.1.3(1)(v).  

[7] Ibid at s. 74.1.5(1)(a.1).

[8] Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act, RSO 1990, c. M. 16, s. 4.1(2).

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