Creating Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs for Temporary Help Workers
Equal Pay for Equal Work, Card-Based Certification Part of Plan to Help Vulnerable Employees in a Changing Economy
Ontario is taking historic action to improve the working conditions of temporary help agency workers with a plan for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs. This includes ensuring workers at temporary help agencies receive equal pay for equal work, hiking the minimum wage, implementing a more appropriate unionization model for their sector, introducing paid personal emergency leave for every worker and stepping up enforcement of employment laws.
Over the past three years, Ontario's economy has outperformed all G7 countries in terms of real GDP growth. While exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, the nature of work has changed. Many workers are struggling to support their families on part-time, contract or minimum-wage work. Government has a responsibility to ensure Ontario workers are protected by updating the province's labour and employment laws.
To help safeguard employees and create fairer and better workplaces, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 would:
- Mandate equal pay for temporary help agency (THA) employees doing the same job as permanent employees of the agencies' client companies, and equal pay for part-time, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees
- Require a THA to provide temporary help workers with at least one week's notice when an assignment scheduled to last longer than three months will be terminated early, or to provide a week of work or lieu pay if sufficient notice is not given
- Raise Ontario's general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation
- Establish card-based union certification for the temporary help agency industry
- Expand personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least 10 days, including two paid days, per year for all workers
- Bring Ontario's vacation time into line with the national average by ensuring at least three weeks' vacation after five years with the same employer
- Make employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time
The government is also proposing measures to expand family leaves and make certain that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors, ensuring they get the benefits they deserve. To enforce these changes, the province will hire up to 175 more employment standards officers and launch a program to educate both employees and small and medium-sized businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act.
- The introduction of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 responds to the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review, conducted by Special Advisors C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray, over the course of two years. It was the first-ever independent review of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995.
- The report estimates that more than 30 per cent of Ontario workers were in precarious work in 2014.This type of employment makes it hard to earn a decent income and interferes with opportunities to enjoy decent working conditions and/or puts workers at risk.
- In 2016, the median hourly wage was $13.00 for part-time workers and $24.73 for full-time workers. Over the past 30 years, part-time work has grown to represent nearly 20 per cent of total employment.
- Currently, half of the workers in Ontario earning less than $15 per hour are between the ages of 25 and 64, and the majority are women.
- More than a quarter of Ontario workers would receive a pay hike through the proposed increase to the minimum wage.
- Studies show that a higher minimum wage results in less employee turnover, which increases business productivity.
- Ontario legislation to help ensure temporary help agency workers receive owed wages came into force November 2015 through the introduction of joint and several liability between temporary help agencies and their clients.
- Ontario is proposing a broad consultation process to gain feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders on the bill it has introduced. To facilitate this consultation, it has sent the legislation to committee after First Reading.
- The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017
- Proposed changes to Ontario’s Employment and Labour Laws
- The Premier’s remarks on the plan for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs
- The Changing Workplaces Review — Full Final Report
- The Changing Workplaces Review — Summary Report
- Your Employment Standards Rights: Temporary Help Agency Assignment Employees
“These changes will ensure every hard-working Ontarian has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity. Fairness and decency must continue to be the defining values of our workplaces.”
“Our government is making changes to Ontario’s labour laws to better support people who work in temporary help, part-time, minimum wage and contract jobs. Changes like expanded personal emergency leave and increased vacation entitlements will ensure Ontario workers are treated fairly on the job.”
“Ontario's economy is strong and growing, but the nature of work has changed. Our government is updating our labour standards to ensure that Ontario remains a fair place for all workers and that no one is left behind.”
“Our government is increasing protections for hard-working people across Ontario, including those in contractual, part-time and minimum-wage work, and ensuring that all workers get the opportunity to share in Ontario’s prosperity.”