Changing Workplaces Review: Employment Standards

Over the past weeks, we have addressed the areas of concern for the Ontario Labour board. Wrapping up this series, we address a few final points in the Changing Workplaces Review. The board will review and possibly update the regulations set out by the Employment Standards Act of 2000 (ESA) for Ontario workplaces in areas including:

  • Hours of work and overtime pay
  • Minimum wage
  • Job-protected leave
  • Public holidays
  • Vacation
  • Termination and severance of employment
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Temporary help agencies

A particular area of concern for the board is misclassification of employees as independent contractors, depriving them of the protections normally afforded by the ESA. Up to 12 percent of the total Ontario workforce of 5.25 million is currently reported as self-employed. Workers who are defined by the ESA as employees have access to a wide range of protections and benefits such as:

  • Vacation pay
  • Public holiday pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Termination pay
  • Severance pay
  • Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan premiums

ESA Definition of an Employee includes those who perform work, services or receive training for an employer for wages. This includes those who work from home. Such employees are entitled to labour protections including:

  • Daily Hours. Employees can only be required to work 8 hours in a day.
  • Weekly Hours. An employee can be required to work no more than 48 hours in a week.
  • Daily Rest. An employee must receive at least 11 consecutive hours free from work each day.
  • Weekly/Biweekly Rest. Employees must receive at least 24 consecutive hours off work in each workweek or 48 consecutive hours off work in every period of two consecutive workweeks.
  • Rest Between Shifts. There must be 8 hours off work between shifts if the total time worked on successive shifts is more than 13 hours.
  • Eating Periods. Employees are entitled to 30-minute meal breaks no more than 5 hours apart.
  • Overtime Pay. Overtime pay is to be 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate, paid on weekly hours worked in excess of 44. Compensatory time can be substituted if employer and employee agree.

Temporary Employment

Temporary jobs are defined by StatsCan as one with a predetermined end point, either a specific date or upon completion of a project. This includes seasonal jobs, temporary, term and contract jobs.

The Labour Board is concerned by the growth of temporary employment – 45 percent between 2000 and 2015 – because such workers generally experience lower wages and fewer employment benefits. A substantial portion of minimum wage workers are as classified as temporary workers. A 2006 study found that only 23 percent of temporary and contract workers had some form of benefits, as compared with 86 percent of full-time, permanent workers. Few are union members.

How does this affect the staffing industry?

According to Marina Butler, President of Employment Professionals Canada and expert on staffing and HR in Ontario, these numbers reflect a misunderstanding of the full range of benefits temporary employment brings to both employers and employees. “Staffing firms must educate Canadians on the advantages of temporary employment to workers. They are given the chance to work in a variety of roles or companies before settling on a long-term working arrangement, adapt their work schedules to school, family or other obligations and the opportunity to work independently on a project basis if they so choose,” Butler states. “Many who would look to reduce the number of such opportunities disregard the positive role temporary employment plays.”

To remain up to date on the latest Ontario employment news and updates, connect with Employment Professionals Canada. From our blog to our talented team, we strive to assist professionals and companies in Ontario to help them succeed. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

See our related posts on the Changing Workplaces Review series: