In what appears to be good news for small business around Ontario, a contentious portion of new workplace laws is being returned to its original state.
The Better Jobs Act’s employment regulation surrounding holiday pay, according to business owners, was costly and flawed in many ways.
The Ontario government’s new regulation that reinstates its old public holiday pay calculation will be in effect July 1. They also announced a review of the public holiday rules, with a goal to have a new system ready by 2020.
Small business owners were put off when discovering that Bill 148 would increase the holiday pay rate for casual employees. According to the Globe & Mail, some business owners said they were paying more in additional holiday pay per month than what they were handing following the increase in hourly minimum wage to $14 from $11.60.
The bill had holiday pay being calculated by dividing regular wages earned in the pay period before the public holiday by the number of days worked in that pay period over the previous two weeks.
With the new regulation being revoked back to its original state, the public holiday pay will go back to being calculated by taking the amount earned in the four weeks prior to the holiday, divided by 20 days.
The Canadian Federation of Business wrote a letter to provincial Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and all provincial parliament members last month, saying the new formula was “unfair to businesses with part-time employees and has already resulted in layoffs and reduced employee hours. … This is one of the top Bill 148-related issues we’ve been hearing about from small businesses since January 1.”
In an article from the Globe & Mail, when concerns about the public holiday pay changes were presented, the province was responsive.
“I think it’s a case where they saw a public policy problem and moved to fix it, we would regard it as a victory for [our] advocacy effort … as well as a victory for common sense and good public policy,” Karl Littler, vice president of public affairs with the Retail Council of Canada told the newspaper.
CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario, Julie Kwiecinski, said the reversal signals the government is willing to reconsider as parts of its legislation already passed, which could include change around scheduling of workers, including on-call staff, which is set to start early next year.
“This is an opportunity to look at a full review on those provisions as well,” she told the Globe & Mail. “If someone out there is looking at a bill that has been passed and thinking the job is done, there is no fix, this is an example … that it’s possible.”