Employers and job seekers in Ontario are likely aware of the Changing Workplaces Review, but may be unclear as to how it will directly impact those who work or do business in the province; particularly those in the staffing industry. Over the coming weeks, we will provide an overview of the issues the review covers, the objectives of the review and the trends being examined.
In this week’s article, we begin with a general overview of the Changing Workplaces Review. Join us weekly as we dig deeper into specific issues and how they may impact Ontario business.
What is the Changing Workplace Review?
It is an independent review commissioned by the Ontario Government to consider changes to the Employment Standards Act of 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act of 1995 (LRA). The government has noted significant changes to the economy and labour market in the ensuing decades and is undertaking this analysis to determine what changes, if any, must be made to keep up.
What is the Focus of the Review?
The primary focus will be examining the working conditions of vulnerable workers in precarious jobs and considering whether legislative intervention needs to be taken to regulate them. The intent is to ensure that any changes that take place consider their impact on keeping business and the economy strong.
Craig Rix of Hicks Morley, the largest human resources law and advocacy firm in Canada, details additional purposes of the review:
- Identifying the substantive areas of the LRA and ESA that are being considered as part of the Review.
- Outlining the current state of the law and employee entitlements in each of those areas, drawing on context from other jurisdictions within Canada, as well as differing approaches in foreign jurisdictions, including the United States, the European Union and Australia.
- Summarizing the submissions made to the Special Advisors while identifying areas where submissions may have been lacking.
- Noting key options for recommendations that the Special Advisors are considering.
- Seeking further input on those key options.
Who is performing the review?
The Ministry of Labour tasked Special Advisors C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray with conducting this review in light of developments in Ontario’s changing economy, demographics, lifestyles, technologies and trends in labour and employment law. The review specifically focuses on recommendations to amend the ESA, the LRA and their regulations.
What were their findings?
The initial report makes two broad conclusions; the administration and enforcement of the existing ESA should be strengthened and there should be further review and possible reform of exemptions to ESA provisions, such as minimum wage and hours of work.
What is the potential impact on the staffing industry?
According to Marina Butler, President of Employment Professionals Canada and expert on staffing and HR in Ontario, the staffing industry must pay particular attention to the results of this review because the industry has been singled out as a provider of precarious employment by some definitions of the term. “It’s essential that staffing professionals be vigilant in participating in the process and speaking up for what the industry contributes to business in Ontario,” she stated.
Where are we now?
The special advisors issued their Interim Report in July 2016, soliciting feedback from interested parties before October 14, 2016.
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