News Local

Renfrew County braces for Bill 148

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Submitted photo
Incorporated in 1861, the County of Renfrew is made up of 17 lower tier municipalities.

Submitted photo Incorporated in 1861, the County of Renfrew is made up of 17 lower tier municipalities.

 

The County of Renfrew needs to brace for the reforms coming under Bill 148, the Fair Workplace, Better Job Act.

That was the warning from staff during the finance and administration committee meeting this past week as Queen's Park passed the controversial legislation. The most notable change the new law makes is that it will raise the provincial minimum wage from its current $11.60 per hour to $14 beginning on Jan. 1 and then up to $15 in 2019.

The act will mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as employees at the agencies' client companies. But it enacts other sweeping measures as well.

“This piece of legislation is very dynamic and continues to evolve,” Renfrew County human resources director Bruce Beakley told committee.

The act expands personal emergency leave to 10 days per calendar year for all employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week. Employers would not be allowed to ask for their employees to give them a sick note when they take that leave. Bill 148 aims to make employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.

The legislation contains a number of sections establishing rules around leaves and holidays, such as employers having to give their workers a minimum of three weeks of paid vacation if the employees have been working for them for five years or more.

The Liberal government is also expanding family leaves and adding measures to ensure that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors, ensuring they get the benefits and protections they deserve. Beakley provided committee with a report from the legal firm, Hicks Morley, which specializes in human resources law, that sets out some of the changes that are being discussed by the province's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

The government is proposing a domestic or sexual violence leave, an unpaid leave of absence entitled to an employee with at least 13 consective weeks of employment. This is for a situation where the employee or the employee’s child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of such a crime. The leave will be used so they can seek medical attetion, obtain victim services assistance, relocate, obtain psychological or professional counselling.

Critical illness leave would provide 37 weeks of leave within a 52-week period for a parent or legal guardian to provide care and support to a critically ill child under the age of 18. There will also be adjustments to the pregnancy and parental leave and family medical leave.

SChase@postmedia.com