Part-Time Workers | Authors: Bram Lecker and Simon Pelsmakher, Student-at-Law
A distinct sign of the last decade is the decline in full-time, permanent jobs. Ontario’s economy has seen a tremendous rise in part-time workers, many performing temporary and/or seasonal work. Our “gig economy” leaves many workers ambiguously stuck between the status of contractor and employee.
The balance of power in a working relationship had always rested in employers’ hands. It seems however, over the last 10 years, the scales tilted even further in their favour. Precarious work conditions and inadequate legislation emboldened many employers. Some were not afraid to let vulnerable workers go in a heart-beat and without sufficient notice or severance. Our employment laws were ripe for a facelift. And fortunately, the Government of Ontario stepped up to the challenge.
Bill 148: Stepping Up For Part-Time Workers
In January this year, Ontario passed Bill 148, also known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. The legislation amended employee’s sick leave rights, increased minimum wage and introduced penalties for mislabeling employees as contractors. The legislation also improved the rights and entitlements of part-time workers and are purportedly, the first of their kind in North America
On April 1, 2018, Equal Pay for Equal Work becomes law. Employers must pay their part-time workers the same rate they offer to their full-time employees when the jobs they perform are virtually the same. This requirement applies to seasonal workers as well as those placed by temp agencies.
Part-Time Workers: What to Expect
Part-time workers, temps and seasonal employees can now expect transparency with their wages.They may request a review of wages by their employers to ensure they are compensated fairly and according to the law. If it is lower, then employers must make the necessary wage adjustments or provide a written refusal along with a reason for it. The law allows employers to make exceptions for seniority or an objective measurement of quality or quantity of production. They cannot discriminate against part-time workers for their gender or part-time employment status.
Equal Rights under Contract
Common laws are a set of judge made laws based on precedents. A long standing principle enshrined within our common laws requires employers to treat all their employees equally. Your part-time status is not inferior. If your employer offers benefits to their full-time staff, then they must also extend the same benefits to their part-time workers on a pro-rata basis. This includes vacation pay and pension entitlements.
This principle debunks a long held conventional belief among employers that they can terminate their part-time workers without notice or severance. The law provides all employees reasonable notice or compensation in lieu of notice. The amount is based on your length of service, age, seniority and availability of employment. The employment status of full-time or part-time workers is completely irrelevant in the matter of termination pay.
The same conditions apply to your protections under the Maternity Leave section of the Employment Standards Act, the Human Rights Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Employment Insurance Act. For example, when part-time workers fall ill, employers must cover them under their existing disability insurance plan. And when the employee returns, employers must offer the same accommodation they would to full-time workers.
Lecker & Associates exclusively represent employees of Ontario. Wrongful Dismissal and Severance Negotiations remain a cornerstone of our practice, along with a full suite of employment law services. If you have been unfairly treated due to your part-time status, contact us. Our employment lawyers can likely help you better than anyone else.
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