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Province Supports Personal Emergency Leave

Web posted on June 12, 2017

Ontario is taking historic action to create more opportunity and security for workers with a plan for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs. As part of this plan, the government will expand personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers.

Personal emergency leave currently applies only in workplaces with 50 or more employees. Under the proposed amendments, this threshold would be eliminated.

Over the past three years, Ontario's economy has outperformed all G7 countries in terms of real GDP growth. While exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, the nature of work has changed.

Many workers are struggling to support their families on part-time, contract or minimum-wage work. Government has a responsibility to ensure Ontario workers are protected by updating the province's labour and employment laws.

Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins were at Women's College Hospital in Toronto today to talk about the government's Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, introduced last week. If passed, the legislation will make the following changes, starting on January 1, 2018:

  • All employees would receive 10 days of personal emergency leave (PEL) per year, including two paid PEL days.
  • Employers would be prohibited from requesting a sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • The reasons for taking personal emergency leave would be expanded so that employees experiencing domestic or sexual violence, or the threat of sexual or domestic violence, could take the leave. This is in addition to the existing reasons that PEL days may be taken, which include illness, injury or other urgent matters related to an individual or certain family members.

As part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, the government is also proposing to hike the minimum wage, ensure part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers, expand family leaves and make certain that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors, so that they get the benefits they deserve.

"This proposed change in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act means that employers are now banned from asking workers for a doctor's note when they call in sick, for the first ten personal emergency leave days a worker needs to take off each year. When you're sick with the flu or a bad cold, you should be at home getting rest, and the last place you want to be is in a doctor's office." Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Today's announcement responds to the final report of the Changing Workplaces review, conducted by Special Advisors C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray over the past two years. It is the first-ever independent review of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995.

To enforce these changes, the province will hire up to 175 more employment standards officers and launch a program to educate both employees and small and medium-sized businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act.

Creating fair workplaces and better jobs across Ontario is part of our plan to grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.