Ontario is in the process of passing a new bill the Working for Workers Act (the “Bill”) that includes some major changes for Ontario employers. Amongst other things, the Bill will make Ontario the first Canadian jurisdiction to ban non-compete agreements in employment and to require employers to have a policy on disconnecting from work.
The Bill will prohibit employers and employees from entering into non-compete agreements or employment agreements that include a non-compete. A non-compete agreement is defined in the Bill as any agreement that prohibits the employee from engaging in an activity that is in competition with the employer’s business after the relationship ends. It is unclear whether this will apply to all employment agreements retroactively. It does not appear to invalidate non-solicitation covenants, which typically restrict departing employees’ ability to solicit customers and/or employees, although the scope of the prohibition remains unclear.
Under the Bill, employers with 25 or more employees will be required to implement a written policy regarding disconnecting from work, which is defined as not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls, or the sending or review of other messages so as to be free from the performance of work during time off. The Bill does not specify what content the policy must include or the time periods that employee are entitled to be disconnected from work. These details will presumably follow in regulations.
The Bill also prohibits temporary help agencies and recruiters from operating without a license. It bans employers from knowingly engaging the services of an unlicensed temporary help agency or recruiter.
The Bill has passed 1st reading and we anticipate that it will receive Royal Assent in the near future. We will continue to monitor its progress and update you accordingly.
If you have any questions about the Bill, you can contact us at:
Geoffrey Howard: email@example.com
Sebastian Chern: firstname.lastname@example.org