Employment law review provides important opportunity to address precarious employment, say workers

TORONTO, Feb. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - Temp agency workers, part-time workers, contract workers and those in unstable employment are cautiously optimistic that the Ontario government is serious about changing employment laws to better protect workers.

"With today's announcement, this government can make good on it's promise to modernize employment laws to reflect today's economic reality," said Deena Ladd, Coordinator of the Workers' Action Centre. "This is particularly urgent for Toronto where nearly half of all workers are in short-term, part-time or precarious employment."

"As it stands, too many workers are not protected by existing laws," said Ladd. "Because certain sectors are intentionally exempted from current legislation, huge numbers of workers are not covered by basic minimum wage, vacation and overtime protections. Workers who have been misclassified by their employers as independent contractors lose their legal protection as well as their entitlements to Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan. Still others fall through the cracks because multiple employers dictate the terms and conditions of work, yet such employers are not jointly responsible for protecting workers," said Ladd.

According to Christian Ho, a member of the Workers' Action Centre: "Even where existing laws are clear, the current complaints-based system does not adequately protect workers from employer reprisals. In today's economy, many of us are fearful of provoking employers by challenging wage theft, speaking out against harassment, or joining unions. That's why the Ministry of Labour must develop a more comprehensive vision for proactive enforcement, including stiffer penalties for employers who break the law and adequate staffing resources to ensure the vision becomes reality."

"Finally, it must be said that low pay and inadequate hours continue to be serious concerns for workers," said Ladd. "Part-time employees regularly receive less hourly pay, fewer hours of paid leave, and fewer health and drug benefits than their full-time counterparts. Worse still – the evidence shows that nearly one in every three part-time workers wants and needs more hours. We think this government should follow the lead of some US states and implement employment laws that curb the phenomenon of involuntary part-time status and ensure equal pay for equal work," said Ladd.

SOURCE Workers Action Centre

For further information: Deena Ladd, Coordinator: 416-836-2379 (cell); Pam Frache, Organizer: 416-578-3472 (cell)

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