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Ontario takes on part-time employment

part-time“In Minister Flynn’s address to the conference participants, it was evident that one of the objectives of Bill 148 was to discourage the growth of part-time employment at the expense of full-time employment by introducing a number of measures to reduce or eliminate any savings employers might achieve by hiring part-time employees rather than full-time employees.”

The 18th Annual Ontario Employment Law Conference presented by First Reference and Stringer LLP on June 20, 2017 featured the Honourable Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour as its keynote lunch speaker.

Minister Flynn took the opportunity to communicate with the largely small- to medium-sized employers represented at the conference about the recently announced Bill 148, “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017″. Bill 148 was introduced on June 1, 2017 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on June 22. The Standing Committee has scheduled a number of public hearings on the Bill to take place in July throughout Ontario. The schedule of hearings is available here.

In Minister Flynn’s address to the conference participants, it was evident that one of the objectives of Bill 148 was to discourage the growth of part-time employment at the expense of full-time employment by introducing a number of measures to reduce or eliminate any savings employers might achieve by hiring part-time employees rather than full-time employees.

Statistics show that most job growth in Canada has been in the part-time category. StatsCan’s The Daily reported on January 6, 2017 that

part-time employment trended up throughout 2016, rising by…4.5%, while full-time employment was little changed.

And notably,

During the same period, the number of hours worked was virtually unchanged.

For the same period in Ontario the employment increase of 1.2% in 2016 was mainly in part-time work.

Bill 148 takes aim at part-time employment on a number of fronts. Most explicit is the new requirement to pay part-time employees the same rate as full-time employees if the only difference in their employment is the employee’s status (as full- or part-time, seasonal, temporary etc.). Exceptions are made for seniority, merit, and production differences. Similarly, temporary employment agencies must also pay assignment employees the same rate as the employer’s employees if they are performing substantially the same work, requiring the same skill and in the same working conditions.

Changes to calculating public holiday pay also benefits part-time employees. Holiday pay is to be calculated on the basis of actual days worked in the previous pay period rather than total wages and vacation pay over the four weeks prior to the holiday week divided by 20.

Tighter scheduling rules will also make it harder (and potentially, more expensive) for employers to manage a part-time workforce. Employees must now be paid for three hours of work if not given at least 48 hours notice of a cancellation of a shift, for less than three hours of work (if the employee regularly works more than three hours and presents themselves for work), or for being on call for a twenty-four hour period.

Smaller employers will now also be on the hook for up to ten emergency leave days per year per employee (currently only employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide emergency days), with the first two days of emergency leave per year being paid days. This applies to both full-time and part-time employees.

It is useful to consider such measures in the context of who the part-time workforce is. Statistics Canada reports that a full 67.5% of part-time workers do so because of school, personal preference or childcare or family responsibilities, with 25% for “other” reasons which include business conditions or being unable to find full-time work. Among 15-24 year olds, a full 72.1% work part-time because of school commitments, with 18.2% for “other” reasons. Among 25-44 year olds 57.2% work part-time because of personal preference, school commitments and child /family responsibilities with 33.9% for “other” reasons. For those 45 and over, 64% work part-time for the reasons noted above and 24% for “other” reasons.

Whether these proposed changes effect the growth trend in part-time employment or, as many employers claim, will instead result in fewer jobs, is yet to be seen; it will, however, for those part-time jobs which continue, improve the working conditions and pay for part-timers.

leftOnce the Act is passed, employers should review and amend their policies dealing with holiday pay, emergency leave, reporting pay, call-in pay, and benefits related to part-time employment. Look for amended chapters and sample Statements of Policy and Procedure from Human Resources PolicyPro® once the legislation comes into effect. Request a free 30-day trial here!

Michele Glassford

VP and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of VP and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more
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