Ontario Has New Rules for Businesses That Lay Off Remote Workers

Ontario remote workers
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Ontario government is recommending a change to the employment law that would grant remote workers termination notice rights.

The proposed reforms, which were made public on Monday, would entitle remote workers to the same minimum of eight weeks’ notice of termination or pay-in-lieu as in-office workers in the event of a mass layoff.

“Whether you commute to work every day or not shouldn’t determine what you are owed. No billion-dollar company should be treating their remote employees as second-class.” Monte McNaughton, Ontario Minister of Labor

Presently, when 50 or more employees at a “establishment” are terminated during a four-week period, Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) applies and gives them eight, 12 or 16 weeks’ notice of a mass layoff.

Remote employees are not protected against mass termination since they are not included in Ontario’s current labor legislation. As a result, businesses can divide layoffs between office-based and remote workers to avoid falling within the definition of a mass layoff. For instance, by laying off 20 more remote workers and 40 office staff. If adopted, the proposed rule would address and eliminate this gap by giving remote employees the same rights as those enjoyed by office employees in the case of mass layoffs.

The Working for Workers Act of the Ontario government, which has encouraged employees to disconnect from the workplace and mandated that companies disclose to their workforce how they are being watched electronically, includes the proposed law.

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