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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.

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