Legal gap closing between temporary and full-time workers
Following the passage of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 — one of the last legislative efforts completed by Ontario’s ousted Liberal government — the distinction between temporary or part-time workers and their full-time counterparts is less significant than ever, explains Lecker, principal of Lecker & Associates.
“Really the only difference is the number of hours they work,” he says. “On virtually all other grounds, employers have identical duties and responsibilities to them.
“I think the aim of the legislation was to remedy some of the loopholes that employers have used to avoid recognizing the full rights of temporary workers.”
The new law updated the Employment Standards Act (ESA), forcing employers to provide equal pay to part-time, casual and employees of temporary agencies who perform “substantially the same work” as those on the full-time payroll.
Provisions in the Act also place the burden on employers to prove that their independent contractors are not, in fact, misclassified employees who are entitled to extra protection under the ESA, including the right to minimum wage, vacation pay, overtime and termination payments.
Then-provincial labour minister Kevin Flynn described the rise in temporary employment in Ontario as “alarming” and said he wants to see the trend return to full-time hiring.
Bill 148, which also hiked the province’s minimum wage to $14 per hour, came with a promise to boost enforcement, as the government said it would hire up to 175 more employment standards inspectors.
Despite that, Lecker predicts some employers will continue to attempt to circumvent the law, and he urges employees to investigate their rights.
“The practical reality of the business world is that some employers will try to limit their bottom line by pulling the wool over employees’ eyes,” he says.