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Ontario’s Employment Shift: Working or Not Working … A Dichotomy, Not a Continuum

Dec 8, 2021

Have you ever heard the “ding” of an email notification and seen an entire roomful of people pull out their phones to check in?  We are tethered to our technology and connected to everything, including work, 24/7.

In response to a growing tendency for workers to be in constant electronic connection with work and the expectation of immediate response from clients, customers and employers, Ontario recently passed Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act.  The biggest changes affect the Employment Standards Act, 2000, requiring employers with 25 employees or more to have a written policy about disconnecting from work, and generally abolishing non-competition clauses in employment agreements.

“Disconnecting from work” means not engaging in work-related communications (such as emails, telephone calls, video meetings, etc.) so that workers are truly separated from work. Policies need to be drafted before March 1 of the year an employer has the requisite number of employees (although 2022 allows for a grace period), which is the easier part.  More complicated and time consuming will be shifting the corporate culture away from expectations of instantaneous response and 24/7 electronic monitoring.  And other policies will need modifications as well.  Is your HR governance foundation ready to implement and support the required shift in mindset?  

The other major change means that, going forward, non-competition clauses will need to be deleted from all standard employment agreement templates in Ontario (other than a few notable exceptions).  Protections for organizations in the form of non-solicitation, confidentiality and intellectual property protection clauses will remain acceptable, although current wording should be reviewed to ensure alignment with the legislation. This is a foundational shift: workers working, when at work, and workers not working, when not at work. When your organization needs to shift its thinking, Inhaus is ready to assist.   Our approach provides diverse expertise and strategic thinking to prepare your operations and strategy for this new reality.

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