Working for Workers Act, 2021

Results Mediators Right to Disconnect
On November 30, 2021 Ontario passed Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021 (the “Workers Act”) with Royal Assent expected to follow within the coming weeks. Four key highlights of the Workers Act, are as follows:

1. The “right to disconnect” requires employers with 25 or more employees to develop a written policy addressing employees’ ability to disconnect from work. The Workers Act defines “disconnecting from work” as not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.

2. Another significant development in the Workers Act is the outright ban on non-compete agreements between employers and employees, whether in an employment contract or stand-alone agreement. While such clauses have long been difficult for employers to enforce, an out-right ban is a significant development for both employers and employees, and does away with the common law test for enforceability that focused on whether the clause was reasonable in terms of its scope and duration. There are two exemptions to the ban on non-competes, one is for executives and the other is where the clause is signed as part of the sale of a business and the seller of the business becomes an employee of the purchaser following the sale.

3. The Workers Act eliminates Canadian work experience as a requirement for professional registration and licensing for internationally trained foreign workers. The changes will apply to specific professions, including law, accounting, architecture, engineering, electrical and plumbing. The changes will not, however, apply to the medical field.

4. Lastly, temporary help recruiting agencies will require a license to operate and will be penalized for charging workers illegal recruitment fees. These changes aim to assist foreign workers in avoiding scams and deceitful recruiters when looking for work in Ontario.