New rules for Ontario businesses laying off remote jobs


The Ontario government is proposing a labor law update that would entitle remote employees to receive layoff notices.

The proposed changes, announced Monday, would make remote workers eligible for the same minimum eight-week notice of termination or pay instead of in-office employees when layoffs occur.

“Whether or not you commute to work every day should not determine what you are owed. No multi-billion dollar company should treat its remote employees like second class,” Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said in a statement Monday.

Currently, the Employment Standards Act of Ontario (ESA) applies when 50 or more employees in an “establishment” are laid off within a four week period and entitles them to eight, 12 or 16 weeks’ notice of a mass layoff.

When it comes to mass layoffs, remote workers are not protected because they are not recognized under current Ontario labor laws.

As a result, companies may split layoffs between remote and in-office employees to avoid meeting the definition of a mass layoff. For example, laying off 40 in-office employees along with 20 other remote workers.

If passed, the new law would address and close this existing gap by giving remote workers the same protections as in-office workers in the event of layoffs.

The proposal would expand the definition of “establishment” to include remote employees and, in doing so, would entitle them to the same early termination notice.

The proposed legislation is part of the Ontario government’s Work for Workers Act, which helped employees disconnect from the office and forced employers to tell their staff how they are being monitored electronically.


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