Controversial provision withdrawn from ESA amendments

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In a statement delivered August 19, 1996, Minister of Labour Elizabeth Witmer announced the withdrawal from Bill 49, the Employment Standards Improvement Act, of the provision allowing unions and employers to contract out of certain employment standards. (For a description of the earlier version of the Bill, see “Changes to Employment Standards Act imminent” on our Publications page. For a description of more recent developments, see ESA amendments receive royal assent” and “Red Tape Commission urges key amendments to Ontario employment statutes” on our Publications page).

The provision would have permitted parties to negotiate their own standards for hours of work, severance pay, overtime pay, public holidays and vacation pay. The negotiated standards would have prevailed over those in the ESA only if, as a package, they provided greater rights or benefits than those in the legislation. Because different types of standards were involved, there was some uncertainty as to how it would be determined whether the negotiated package, taken as a whole, exceeded the statutory minimum.

Labour Minister Witmer announced that the provision would be dropped from Bill 49 and moved into the comprehensive review of the ESA planned for this fall.