On April 1, 2018, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to mandate equal pay for equal work between casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, and full-time or permanent workers.
Under the new rules, casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees cannot be paid at a rate of pay less than full-time or permanent employees if:
- They do substantially the same kind of work, in the same establishment
- Their work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility
- Their work is performed under similar working conditions
From a temporary staffing perspective, this means that any employee placed on a temporary assignment through a staffing company must be paid at the same rate as a full-time employee that has been hired directly if they’re doing the same kind of work.
These changes are the result of the province’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 –representing the largest update to Ontario’s labour laws in a generation. The provincial government raised the minimum wage to $14 an hour on January 1, 2018, and will further increase it to $15 an hour on January 1, 2019.
Other provisions of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 from which the above information has been presented have already come into force, including more paid vacation time for employees with five years of employment with the same employer, and expanding and increasing several leaves of absence.
Employer Implications & Recommendations
To ensure compliance with these changes and to minimize the impact of these changes, provincially-regulated employers in Ontario should consider taking steps to:
- Review current workforce in Ontario to determine if any employees at a facility are performing the same kind of work requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions and are being paid different wages.
- If the above applies to your workforce, then you should determine if there are exceptions (e.g., seniority system, merit system, etc). If none of the exceptions apply, consider increasing pay rates before a wage review request and to ensure employees are being paid equally, regardless of their employment status.
- Prepare for part-time employees asking to have their rate of pay reviewed, in which case you will want to:
- draft job descriptions that can be used later on to justify differences in wages
- Ensure everything is documented – performance management and employee evaluations. These can be referred to in order to differentiate between the quality of work of different employees
- Establish standard procedures for how employee wage reviews will be handled and how it will be communicated
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