McGuinty government ending 60-hour work week

Archived Release

McGuinty government ending 60-hour work week

Employers reminded new law comes into effect March 1 TORONTO, Jan. 27 - The deadline is approaching for employers to comply with changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that will end the 60-hour work week, Labour Minister Chris Bentley said today. As of March 1, 2005, employers who want their employees to work more than 48 hours a week must meet the requirements of the newly amended law, which include written agreements with their employees and approval from the Ministry of Labour. "We are protecting vulnerable workers by strengthening their right to decide whether or not to work excess hours," said Bentley. "At the same time, we are ensuring Ontario businesses have the ability to adapt quickly to compete in today's economy." Employers are reminded they should immediately apply to ministry for approval if they wish their employees to work more than 48 hours. There is no fee and applications may be made in writing or on-line through the ministry website at www.gov.on.ca/LAB/. The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Hours of Work and Other Matters), 2004, was passed by the Ontario Legislature in early December. It requires employers who want employees to work more than 48 hours in a week to: - Give non-unionized employees an information sheet, published by the Ministry of Labour on rights and responsibilities regarding hours of work and overtime pay - Obtain written agreement from the employee, or from the union if the workplace is unionized - Receive approval from the Ministry of Labour. If the ministry has not made a decision on an application within 30 days, a limited number of excess weekly hours may be worked, provided certain conditions are met. If employers want to average an employee's hours of work to determine overtime pay, they must receive approval from the ministry and meet certain conditions. Employers can get more information and applications on the ministry website or by calling the Employment Standards Call Centre at 416-326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- January 27, 2005 MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT ENDS 60-HOUR WORK WEEK The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Hours of Work and Other Matters), 2004, was passed by the Ontario legislature on December 9, 2004. The act sets out rules employers must follow if they want their employees to work excess daily or weekly hours and if they wish to average an employee's work hours in order to determine overtime pay entitlements. Workplaces will have to be in compliance with the new law when it comes into force on March 1, 2005. Until then, the current law applies. Hours of work and overtime averaging rights Most employees in Ontario can't be required to work more than: - Eight hours a day, or the number of hours in an established regular work day, if that is more than eight, and - 48 hours a week. Most employees must be paid overtime pay after 44 hours of work each week. Alternatively, an employee's hours of work can, with the employee's agreement, be averaged over a period of two or more weeks to determine the employee's overtime entitlements. This means an employee will qualify for overtime pay if his or her average hours of work per week exceed 44 hours. Highlights of the new act - As of March 1, 2005, if an employer wants an employee to work more than 48 hours a week, the employer must: - Give non-unionized employees an information sheet, published by the Ministry of Labour's director of employment standards, on rights and responsibilities regarding hours of work and overtime pay - Obtain written agreement from the employee, or the union if the workplace is unionized - Receive approval from the director of employment standards. - The first two requirements also apply if an employer wants an employee to work excess daily hours. - In order to average an employee's hours of work to determine overtime pay, an employer must obtain written agreement from the employee or union and receive an approval from the director of employment standards. - If the director has not made a decision on an application within 30 days, a limited number of excess weekly hours can be worked, and overtime averaging over a period of two weeks may begin, if certain conditions are met. - Written agreements that currently exist between employers and employees will remain valid, but the requirement to apply for director's approval as set out above still applies. Also, employers must give the employees who agreed to work excess hours a copy of the information sheet by June 1, 2005. Approval and enforcement - Applications can be submitted to the director of employment standards in person, by fax, electronically or by verifiable mail. In all cases, employers should keep proof of submission with the date and time clearly marked (e.g. fax confirmation receipt, mail delivery confirmation with signature). - Employers will find that the no-fee application, simple forms and better access to ministry information will streamline the process and make it easy to apply. - The director of employment standards will consider such things as the employer's employment standards compliance history and the health and safety of workers when determining whether an approval should be given. - The ministry may conduct checks to ensure that written agreements are in place, that employees have been given the required information sheet, and that employees have signed willingly. Other key amendments - As of March 1, 2005, the names of companies and individuals convicted of an offence under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and information about that offence can be published by the Ministry of Labour, including in Internet postings. - Employers will be required to keep copies of agreements to work excess hours and to average hours of work for overtime purposes for three years after the last day the work was performed under these agreements. Resources The Ministry of Labour has made the following materials available to assist workplaces in complying with the act: - A new web 'gateway' to provide easier access to Ministry of Labour information, guides and tools for employers and employees - The Ministry of Labour information sheet on employee rights and employer responsibilities regarding hours of work and overtime pay - An employer's guide to the application process. For more information, contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or toll-free at 1-800-531-5551, or visit the Ministry of Labour website at www.gov.on.ca/lab/. Disponible en fran├žais www.gov.on.ca/lab/For further information: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405