Bill 148 has employers in something of a whirl, introducing and enforcing a whole host of new legal obligations relating to employees
Bill 148 has employers in something of a whirl, introducing and enforcing a whole host of new legal obligations relating to employees. And while many employers are caught up in the intricacies of the minimum wage hike and the new paid personal emergency leave days, there’s one issue that seems to have slipped under the radar.
The 20% rule could have huge consequences for organizations who don’t understand it. Bill 148 provides for the mandatory disclosure of a list of employees, along with contact information to a trade union applying to organize an employer’s business. To trigger this disclosure, the applicant union has only to demonstrate 20% support of the employees in what the Labour Board would consider an “appropriate bargaining unit.”
“Employers really need to start thinking about how they store their employee information and what information they have on file,” explained Lorenzo Lisi, partner at Aird & Berlis.
“If the union can establish that they have cards for 20% of employees in a bargaining unit, employers are then required to provide to a union the employee contact information they have on file – which can include phone number and email – to assist the union in organizing the employees.
“Employers need to be proactive. They should be thinking about the ways they already communicate with their employees – and what information they have on file. Consider what will happen if the Union can communicate freely with employees. Does the employer have a way of doing so which is a normal part of their business, perhaps via social media? Employers should have a plan as to what platform to communicate with employees during an organizing drive, and what information the Union will have."
Given that employers do not have the right to see or challenge the names on the union cards signed but rather can only challenge the bargaining unit description, effective communication becomes that much more critical.
Lisi will be speaking at an upcoming webinar, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act; the session will help HR professionals navigate the practical implications of the changes in Ontario workplaces. Find out more and reserve your place here.