On January 1, 2017, amendments to the personal emergency leave and daily rest period provisions under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) came into force with respect to the automotive sector.

The amendment added section 4 to O Reg 502/06, “Terms and Conditions of Employment in Defined Industries – Automobile Manufacturing, Automobile Parts Manufacturing, Automobile Parts Warehousing and Automobile Marshalling” (the “Regulation”), which modifies the application of the personal emergency leave provisions under the ESA, and creates a special rule with respect to the general daily rest period rule requiring 11 consecutive hours free from work each day.

Under these new provisions, an employee in the automotive sector whose employer regularly employs 50 or more employees, is entitled to seven (7) unpaid days of leave each year due to personal emergencies, specifically:

  • A personal illness, injury or medical emergency;
  • The illness, injury or medical emergency of a prescribed individual; or
  • An urgent matter that concerns a prescribed individual.

The employee is also entitled to three (3) unpaid days of leave due to the death of a prescribed individual.

A prescribed individual under section 4 of the Regulation includes:

  • The employee’s spouse;
  • A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  • A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  • A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee’s spouse;
  • The spouse of a child of the employee;
  • The employee’s brother or sister; and
  • A relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance.

Previously, under section 50 of the ESA, an employee was entitled to 10 unpaid days of leave due to personal emergencies, including the death of a prescribed individual. The new amendments separate the personal emergency provisions for the automotive sector into personal emergency days and bereavement days.

The amendment also brings in special rules for the automotive sector with respect to daily rest periods. If an employee agrees in writing, on one day in each work week the general daily rest period rule does not apply and the employee is instead entitled to 8 consecutive hours free from work.

The amendments may have been influenced by the ongoing Changing Workplaces Review being conducted by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The Special Advisors’ Interim Report, released in July 2016, discussed hours of work, daily rest periods and the personal emergency provisions under the ESA and potential amendments. More broadly, the Interim Report discussed the changing nature of Ontario’s workforce, the workplace and the economy itself, particularly in light of trends and pressures, including the rise of precarious work, the effects of globalization and accelerating technological change.

Although the new amendment to personal emergency leave and daily rest period provisions applies only to the automotive sector, it remains to be seen whether similar amendments will be made to the personal emergency leave in other industry sectors as the Changing Workplaces Review continues. A final report from the Special Advisors is expected in the coming months.

Written with the assistance of Nichole Buchanan, articling student.

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