Trucking employers need to be flexible when navigating return to office: Splinter

Young people were more likely to be laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there was a surge in women taking on delivery jobs during the same time period.

Those were a couple revelations from Trucking HR Canada CEO Angela Splinter, who spoke May 17 at the first in-person event by networking group Delta Nu Alpha in more than two years.

“Right now, as we’re looking to come out from behind the eight ball, we have a little bit more work to do getting young people to come to our industry,” Splinter said, noting trucking employers tended to keep more experienced and tenured workers when managing layoffs.

Remote working pic
(Photo: iStock)

One in five working Canadians is now between the ages of 55 and 64, but in trucking that number increases to one in four, Splinter noted. There was also reason for optimism, however. While women are underrepresented in the trucking industry, there was a 55% increase in female delivery drivers from 2019 to 2021. Splinter said this represents an opportunity to transition them into truck driving jobs.

“It’s an impressive stat, in that we’re seeing the needle move a bit,” she said. “This creates a whole new pipeline of talent for us to look at.”

Splinter said she recently spoke to a large courier company that saw an increase in package delivery drivers, three of whom it was able to get licensed for longhaul trucking work. “It’s a small number, but at least it gives us some hope,” said Splinter.

Trucking employers are now in the midst of trying to woo workers back to the office, but that hasn’t been easy.

“We are certainly seeing flexible and hybrid models,” she said. “We saw it work during Covid. We do have to be more flexible.”

While many office workers switched to remote work during the pandemic, this was accompanied by more frequent communication, something Splinter said should continue after they return to the office.

“When going back to the office, consider employees have come to expect more regular touch points.”

Another trend that emerged through the pandemic was an increased focus on workplace wellness.

“We saw a real change in management styles through Covid. More empathy. More being considerate of employees’ situations they were going through. It’s a real trend,” she said.

Changes to Canada Labour Code

Craig Faucette, chief program officer with Trucking HR Canada, shared insights into how Canada’s Labour Code is changing and the impact those changes have on federally regulated carriers.

“Some changes are relatively simple, some are complex. And there are more coming down the pipeline,” he said.

Certain Canada Labour Code changes related to notification requirements around shift scheduling contained exemptions for trucking, due to the nature of the work. But a significant change that will affect trucking employers is around harassment and violence in the workplace.

Government studies found about 15% of employees reported being harassed within the workplace over the past year. Trucking HR Canada did its own research and found that number was similar in trucking, at 16%.

“These types of things shouldn’t be happening,” said Faucette. Federally regulated companies will need to put in place provisions to avoid workplace harassment and violence; provide adequate, timely responses to complaints; and provide support for victims.

He said Trucking HR Canada has produced training materials and backgrounders to help employers comply with the new requirements.

Another change facing federally regulated employers is mandatory paid sick days.

And then there’s looming pay equity legislation coming under the Canadian Human Rights Commission. “It’s a complex pay equity plan employers need to implement,” Faucette explained, noting there’s a three-year implementation window.

Employers will need to ensure anyone doing similarly valued work be paid equally. “If you have predominantly male or female roles, you have to assess the value of those rolls,” Faucette explained, noting pay increases for certain genderized roles may be required.

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.


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