Canada’s employment law landscape has entered a new era – one shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing advances in technology and a rethinking of the traditional employee-employer relationship.
From maintaining a remote workforce to translating new employee protections into company policy, Canadian employers must quickly contend with a slate of new responsibilities – and with them a number of complex legal questions.
This resource hub is tailored to help employers navigate this transition effectively, providing them with the insights and tools they need to make informed policy decisions for their organizations and lead the next generation of workers with confidence.
Developments in Canadian employment law: At a glance
It’s no secret that across Canada (and indeed around the world), remote jobs and hybrid work is fast becoming the standard for many sectors. With more remote workers, however, comes complicated legal risks for employers – including with respect to health and safety, cyber security, tax and immigration.
Right to Disconnect
With the passage of Bill 27: Working for Workers Act, 2021, Ontario has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to legislate a “right to disconnect” for employees. Effective June 2, 2022, all Ontario employers with 25 employees or more are required to have in place a “disconnect from work” policy.
Similar legislation is already in force in several European countries, including Portugal, Italy and Ireland. It’s reasonable to expect other provinces will be closely monitoring Ontario’s rollout of Bill 27 as they consider similar measures in response to this new era of remote work.
Employee privacy has emerged as a major issue in the wake of the pandemic. Amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, ushered in under Bill 88, for instance, require businesses with 25 or more employees to have a written “electronic monitoring” policy. Businesses that do monitor their employees electronically must outline in their policies how and under what circumstances they do so.
In a similar spirit, Quebec’s Bill 64: An Act to modernize legislative provisions as regards the protection of personal information puts into effect new requirements for how businesses collect and protect personal information – including that of their employees. British Columbia appears to be following suit; in December 2021, a special committee appointed by the Legislative Assembly recommending a number of changes to B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act, SBC 2003, including the addition of distinct sections related to employee privacy rights.
COVID-19 has made workers’ rights a flashpoint for discussion and debate across Canada. In response, many provinces have begun – and will continue – to take a hard look at their employment standards. In January 2022, British Columbia legislated five days of employer-paid sick leave – more than any other province to date. Similarly, Ontario’s Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act establishes a robust suite of rights and protections for “gig workers” who perform temporary work assignments through apps.
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Gowling WLG in the news
- Ontario’s right-to-disconnect policy takes effect today. Here’s what employers have come up with (Globe and Mail)
- Employers still reluctant to formalize hybrid and remote work language in offer letters (Globe and Mail)
- Ontario Government Grants Workers Right to Disconnect (shrm.org)
- Ontario: Employers to Disclose Electronic Monitoring to Workers (shrm.org)
- Lawyers say Ontario’s right-to-disconnect policy ‘impractical,’ lacking in detail (Globe and Mail)
- Too hard to disconnect from work? (CBC Ontario Today)