Government releases ESA consultation paper

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The Ontario government is proposing to “modernize and clarify” the Employment Standards Act in what it says is the first comprehensive updating of the legislation since 1974. In preparation for this modernization, the government issued a consultation paper on July 26, 2000, in which it set out its proposals.

The issues covered by the consultation paper include:

  • Allowing flexible work arrangements. Under this heading, the government proposes to eliminate the permit system for allowing excess hours and to make other changes to the provisions dealing with hours of work, overtime, paid vacation and public holidays.
  • Adding an unpaid family leave entitlement for up to 10 days of leave per year to deal with family crises, illness or death.
  • Updating the definition of an “employee” covered by the Act to reflect new work arrangements.
  • Adopting a policy for assessing whether certain occupations or industries should be exempted from some employment standards.
  • Simplifying the Act’s administration and eliminating the need for approval for some variations from standards.
  • Encouraging internal resolution of disputes between the parties before involving the Ministry of Labour, while escalating monetary penalties to discourage breaches of the Act.