Ontario Government introduced legislation to ban non-compete agreements in employment

On October 25th the Ontario government introduced legislation that, if passed, would ban non-compete agreements in employment and establish policies for workers to “disconnect” from work.

“The proposed changes would promote healthy work-life balance and will further enable competitiveness by banning unfair non-compete agreements that are used to restrict work opportunities, suppress salary increases and wage growth,” the government’s announcement said.

According to a government release, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, will be introducing the Working for Workers Act, 2021.

The release noted that, if passed, the proposed legislation would “make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to make it easier for people to relax and spend quality time with their loved ones” by “requiring employers with 25 employees or more to develop disconnecting from work policies.”

“These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for e-mails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working,” the release explained.

The proposed legislation would also “prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements.”

“These types of contracts often restrict employees from taking new jobs with another business in the same field after they leave the company. The proposed changes would ban this unfair restriction to help workers in Ontario advance their careers and earn more money. This would also give the province a competitive advantage in attracting global talent. Employers would still be able to protect their intellectual property through narrower clauses,” the release added.

The legislation would also make it “easier for internationally-trained individuals to practise in regulated professions, protecting vulnerable workers by establishing a licensing framework for recruiters and temporary help agencies, ensuring washroom access for delivery workers by requiring business owners to allow them to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve, and supporting businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19.”

The release noted that many of the proposed changes were “informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers and unions.”

“COVID-19 has changed the way we work, leaving too many people behind, struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet for their families,” said McNaughton in a statement.

“Today’s proposed legislation shows Ontario is ready to lead the way into the workplaces of tomorrow and create the conditions that will make talented, innovative people want to work in our great province,” he added.

Patricia Dent

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