Wednesday
Aug032016

Changing Workplaces Review important to all

The 300+ page interim report on the Changing Workplaces Review has now been released.  What does it mean and how will it impact employers and employees?  The review is the mechanism through which the Ontario Ministry of Labour is currently examining the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act; two pieces of legislation that impact all workplaces in Ontario.  The Review has been tasked with examining key workplace trends, including the increase in non-standard working relationships such as temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work, and self-employment.

The interim report contains hundreds of options to the legislation. The options laid out and that are presently being considered by the Special Advisors will impact nearly every aspect of the relationship between employers and employees, as well as the ability of Ontario businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.

It’s for this reason that employers and employees must have an active interest in any changes to legislation.  Keep Ontario Working is an initiative of the leading employer and sector associations in the province, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and is designed to provide information about how you can ensure that government is improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy.

The employer groups believe that, “At a time when the costs to consumers and the cost of doing business in Ontario is rising, government must consider the impact that these changes will have on Ontario’s competitiveness and workers.  Any changes to labour and employment legislation will have implications for Ontario’s economy, and that’s why it’s time for all Ontarians to identify barriers to growth and recommend changes that will give businesses and their workers room to grow.”

In particular, Keep Ontario Working will focus on several policy options in the interim report that the
government is considering, including: 

 

  1. Labour Certification Rules: The requirement for a secret ballot vote must be maintained. Certification simply by signing a union card diminishes employees’ rights and transparency. 
  2. Scheduling Provisions:  Options that would create rigid and universal requirements and a one-size-fits-all approach to scheduling fail to recognize the diverse needs of Ontario’s workforce.
  3. Sector Exemptions: The interim report includes options that would provide for changes to sectoral exemptions. Doing so would ignore the unique needs of important industries like agriculture and information technology when it comes to flexible scheduling and compensation.

 

The group goes on to say:

“In an effort to solve one problem, we don’t want to impose more issues. One-size-fits-all solutions, like many outlined in the interim report, could remove the flexibility that many of Ontario’s employers and employees enjoy. We deserve evidence-based policy and the Government of Ontario should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess the impact on jobs and the economy for any changes to labour and employment legislation that they accept from the Changing Workplaces Review.”

For their part, the special advisors leading the review have recognized “the diversity of the Ontario economy, its businesses, and the competition they face.  A “one-size-fits-all” regulatory solution to a problem in a sector or an industry could have negative consequences if applied to all employers. The unique requirements of some businesses and/or of some employees may – in appropriate circumstances – support differentiation by sector or by industry rather than province-wide regulation.”  

There is a constant call for us to be innovative to move the economy forward.  To that end innovation must be found in all aspects of our economy, from how we build products and services, to how our workforce is supported and encouraged, to how we get those products and services to market.  

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