OTA seeks answers on employement law

TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is calling for more clarity on proposed changes to employment standards in Ontario.

The OTA offered its comments on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, introduced by the government in June to make changes to the Employment Standards Act, including raising the minimum wage and changing the nature of temporary and contract work in Ontario.

The OTA is asking for clarification on which sectors will be included in new rules that will see stiffer penalties for the misclassification of contractors, saying that when it comes to owner-operators the industry will need to better understand how the independence test will be measured.

The OTA is asking for similar clarification on rules surrounding the treatment of temporary, casual, and part-time workers. The new law proposes changes that would see these employees paid the same as full-time employees and treated similarly if they are doing the same job as full-time or permanent employees.

The law is proposing several exemptions based on specific measures related to pay models, but the OTA says it is unclear how these will be applied to the trucking sector. Similarly, it is unclear how new scheduling requirements will be applied.

In an attempt to make scheduling more consistent and predictable, under the new law employees that have been with a company for more than three months would be able to refuse to work a shift if given fewer than four days notice. As well, ‘on-call’ employees would be paid for three hours of work for each day they are listed as on-call and not called in to work. It is unclear if and how this will apply to fleets.

The OTA has also commented on the new minimum wage, saying that it recognizes that a fair minimum wage is necessary for a healthy economy, but hopes that the Ontario government will use New York State as an example when deciding what sectors the changes should apply to.

“The current approach being taken in Ontario lacks this regional and economic analysis,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.  “OTA is not asking the Province to reconsider the move to a $15 minimum wage, but instead urging it to reconsider how such a policy is implemented, clarify which sectors and regions the policy will apply to; and how quickly it will be brought in.”

The timeline for the proposed changes will be staggered, with a raised minimum wage scheduled for Jan. 1, 2018 and again a year later. Changes to the definition of casual, temporary, and part-time workers is proposed for April 1, 2018.

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