Update: see previous posts – April 16, 2016 Ontario: Exploited Workers Can’t Rely on Province for Support, December 6, 2015 Ontario: Bill 12 Will Protect Hospitality Industry Tips From Unscrupulous Employers
Today, Bill 12, or the Protecting Employees’ Tips Act, 2015 has become law in Ontario. It had been put forward several times since 2011 and has finally made it into the Province’s law books.
Bill 12, which began life as a one-line document banning employers from taking workers’ tips, initially faced stiff opposition from the restaurant industry.
It was put forward as a private member’s bill by former NDP MPP Michael Prue (Beaches-East York). It didn’t pass before the Provinical election. After the election, the man who beat Prue, Liberal Author Potts then supported the Ontario bill. All the parties supported the Bill, known as Bill 12 – Protecting Employees’ Tips Act, 2015.
This law was introduced into the Ontario Legislature for first reading on July 14, 2014. It went through its’ second reading and third reading and received Royal Assent on December 10, 2015. Although it became law on December 10, 2015 it would not be implemented throughout the Province for another six (6) months, to provide time for the hospitality industry to prepare and get ready for the implementation of this new law. Bill 12 has been enacted as Chapter 32 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2015.
The Bill amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The new Part V.1 prohibits employers from withholding tips or other gratuities from employees, from making deductions from an employee’s tips or other gratuities, or from causing the employee to return or give his or her tips or other gratuities to the employer except as authorized under the new Part.
Several provinces, including Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, already have similar legislation to protect tipped workers.
The bill will also allow the Ministry of Labour to collect stolen tips/gratuties as if they were unpaid wages under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
The changes that Bill 12 makes to the Employments Standards Act, 2000 will prevent the employer from collecting tips/gratuties from employees or withholding or making deductions from those tips/gratuties, unless a court order allows them to do so.
Employees that work in this industry are normally paid minimum wage and count on the tips/gratuties to augment their low wages to make a living.
Bill 12 still allows bosses to temporarily withhold tips if they redistribute them as part of an employee tip pool, a measure that gives some pay parity to front-of-house staff and lower-paid back-of-house workers. Managers will not be able to participate in the pool unless they are the sole owner of a company or double as servers.
The bill also phases out collective agreement provisions that have previously allowed managers to get up to a 50 per cent share of tip pools.
In a Provincial unionized setting, where collective agreements govern employees tips/gratuties, the language in the collective agreement stands, despite the implementation of Bill 12, until the collective agreement expires. If the parties, during contract negotiations after the collective agreement expires, decide to drop the former language relating to tips/gratuties and fail to replace it, then the language found in Bill 12 or section 14 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 would fully apply.