Vulnerable workers and precarious work – Report of the Law Commission of Ontario
Christine Davies looks at some of the Law Commission of Ontario’s recommendations concerning vulnerable workers and precarious work
The Law Commission of Ontario recently released its final report on vulnerable workers and precarious work. The Commission documented that there are fewer and fewer “good jobs” – i.e full-time jobs with benefits and job security – and an increasing number of jobs that are “precarious” in the sense that they are temporary, part-time, or contract positions. The Commission’s report raises many interesting suggestions that would improve many individuals’ working conditions as well as complaints and enforcement mechanisms.
One of the recommendations would require employers to pay their part-time workers at proportionately the same rate as full-time workers in equivalent positions where there is no justification for the difference based on skill, experience or job description. This suggestion would go some way to ensure that part-time workers, who are overwhelmingly women and racialized minorities, receive fair pay for their labour. As the Commission pointed out, this could also promote flexible work arrangements in a way that may make part-time work more attractive, benefiting both businesses and employees.
The Commission also tackled the prevalent problem of “misclassification”, in which employees are labelled as self-employed contractors when they would more properly be considered employees within the meaning of employment standards legislation. Misclassification deprives workers of basic protections such as overtime compensation and family leave, among other minimum standards. This is a problem that affects a wide-range of industries, from pizza delivery to trucking to cleaning services. In response to this problem, the Commission recommended increasing education and enforcement to target high-risk industries, including blitz-style enforcement efforts to uncover systemic misclassification problems.