A recent 4-part Toronto Star series, Temp Work in Ontario, shines a powerful light on the many ways employers are evading basic Employment Standards and calls for expanded protection for Ontario workers. The series highlights many of the critical issues being explored by the Closing the Gap research project and features several project partners.
The first article documents the growth of just in-time scheduling, where employers change workers’ schedules week to week, often capping workers hours at part-time levels.
In the article, Mary Gellatly, project co-lead, describes how flexible scheduling “shifts what’s traditionally been the cost of doing business onto workers, especially low-wage precarious workers who can least afford it.”
Temp agency work is the focus of the of the second and third articles. While the number of workers hired through temporary staffing agencies is increasing, many of them work for considerably lower wages compared to permanent employees, due to lack of adequate protection for temp workers in the current Employment Standards Act. As the province reviews its labour laws , more can be done to crack down on unfair practices, argues Leah Vosko, project co-lead.
The article “Fired without cause” exposes the heavy cost for workers of Ontario’s outdated system of exemptions from the Employment Standards Act, which Vosko describes as a “complex patchwork that is difficult for workers and even officials to comprehend.”
The final article examines how the current complaint-based enforcement model is failing Ontario workers. “People have to make a choice about paying the rent or making a complaint. So people will choose to pay the rent,” states Deena Ladd, Workers’ Action Centre co-ordinator in the article.
The series profiles many of the recommendations of Workers’ Action Centre’s recent report, Still Working on the Edge.