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Ontario to ban unpaid restaurant trial shifts

Ontario is planning to explicitly ban unpaid trial shifts for restaurant and hospitality workers, while also strengthening rules against deducting employee wages in the event of customer theft.

The latest proposed changes are set to be announced today by Labour Minister David Piccini ahead of legislation expected to be tabled this afternoon that contains a host of new labour laws.

Piccini says that while it is already the law that employees must be paid for all hours worked, unpaid trial shifts are still happening as part of the interview process in some restaurants, so the practice will be specifically prohibited.

Similarly, Piccini says labour laws already prohibit employers from deducting wages due to lost or stolen property, but new language will specifically ban it in instances of dine and dash or gas and dash.

As well, while current laws permit employers to share in pooled tips if they are performing the same work as their staff, the legislation to be introduced today would require the employers to tell employees if they are doing that.

Piccini says due to the rise of digital payment apps, including some that charge workers a fee to access their tips, the bill will also specify that employees who get paid their tips via direct deposit can choose where that money gets deposited.

"We're seeing apps that are taking a cut every time ... a worker accesses their tips and that's not acceptable," Piccini said in an interview.

"I mean, imagine telling an office worker they're going to get dinged every time they access their paycheques. We wouldn't say it's acceptable there, so why would we say it's acceptable for those in the hospitality and service sector?"

Other changes contained in the new legislation include several aimed at the recruiting and hiring process. The bill would ban employers from requiring Canadian work experience in job postings or application forms, something Piccini said will help newcomers get more of a foot in the door in order to offer their valuable skills and experience.

Job postings would also be required to include salary ranges and businesses will have to disclose whether artificial intelligence is part of their hiring process, in part due to concerns about data collection and personal privacy.

The legislation would also boost payments to injured workers by enabling increases to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits to be "super indexed" to a rate above inflation.

As well, it would allow more firefighters and fire investigators to qualify for WSIB benefits due to esophageal cancer. Currently, firefighters and fire investigators have to have been on the job for 25 years before esophageal cancer would be considered a work-related illness.

The new legislation would also increase the number of international students in Ontario eligible for the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program by revising eligibility requirements to allow students from one-year college graduate certificate programs to apply.

As well, it would change how regulated professions such as accounting, architecture and geoscience use third-party organizations to assess international qualifications, which the government says would improve oversight and accountability.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2023 Top Stories

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