Update on ESA and LRA Review

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Julie Baker, HR/Administrative Manager and Chris Clarke, VP Operations, attended the Siskinds’ Labour and Employment Law Client Conference in London, ON. One of the topics discussed at the conference was ‘The Changing Workplaces Review’ – specifically the recent examination of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995. Outlined below is the information provided by Siskinds – The Law Firm on the issues being considered:

The Changing Workplaces Review

by Beth Traynor

In February 2015, the provincial government appointed two Special Advisors to lead and coordinate public consultations on how the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the “LRA”) could be amended to better protect workers in the changing economy. The two Special Advisors are a former labour lawyer and now arbitrator C. Michael Mitchell and the Honourable Justice John C. Murray.

Mr. Mitchell and Justice Murray are expected to release an Interim Report any day now. We understand that some of the issues being considered are:

Under the LRA

  • the potential inclusion of agricultural, horticultural and professional employees, who are currently excluded
  • expansion of the application of related/joint employer principles, which could affect franchises, temporary help agencies, etc.
  • at what point a Union should have access to employee lists
  • consolidation of bargaining units to make it easier to organize small employers
  • broader-based bargaining
  • workers’ councils – employees working in a concerted way without the involvement of a union
  • the imposition of penalties for contraventions

Under the ESA

  • who is an “employee”? – redefined to include dependent contractors and other current exclusions
  • who is an “employer”? – redefined to include vertical and horizontal relationships such as franchisor/franchisee, subcontractors, temporary help agencies and their clients
  • equal pay for equal work between part-time and full-time employees
  • should employers be permitted to require a certain amount of mandatory overtime?
  • re: scheduling – is there a way to protect part-time workers?
  • paid sick days
  • definition of “just cause” on termination
  • greater enforcement and heavier penalties – “it costs more to go through a stop sign than to contravene the ESA

We understand that the Review received far more submissions from organizations representing employees/Unions than from the management side. You can review the list of participants here.

We understand that the Interim Report will be published here when it is released and we encourage you to review it and consider whether you may wish to respond.

SRG will be following this story closely and how it will impact our industry and clients. We encourage you to review the Interim Report and submit a response so that all employers can influence and have a say in these legislative changes. SRG is being represented by our industry organization, ACSESS. We will keep you updated in future communications.

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