New motion proposes stronger protections for temp agency workers

Posted
April 13, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

Give temp agency workers equal pay for equal work, ban "temporary" assignments that turn into long-term gigs, and eliminate unfair fees charged by staffing agencies, a new motion suggests.

The new proposals are expected to be introduced Thursday by provincial NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh, and mirror some of the demands made by workers’ rights activists to better protect vulnerable workers.

"Over the past decade temporary job agencies have grown exponentially," Singh told the Star.

"As a result, I've heard far too many heart-wrenching stories of people living in Ontario who simply cannot find work unless they go through an agency that claws back as much as 40 per cent of their pay."

The proposed motion would make employers provide temp agency staff the same wages, benefits, and working conditions as permanent full-time workers doing comparable work, and require companies to make temps permanent after six months on the job, according to a draft obtained by the Star.

It also proposes eliminating agencies' current ability to charge client companies fees if they decide to hire a temp within the first six months on the job, which critics say serves as a disincentive to creating permanent positions. Fees after six months are already illegal in Ontario.

The goal is to curtail the phenomenon of so-called "perma-temps" — workers who are hired through a temp agency but work in the same job for sometimes years on end.

"It is unacceptable that people working at the same company doing the same job as their co-workers don't receive equal wages or the same benefits." Singh said.

The Ontario government introduced stronger protections for temp agency workers in 2014, making it "the first province, and one of very few jurisdictions anywhere, to specifically address temporary help agency employment in legislation," according to Minister of Labour spokesperson Michael Speers.

"This is something we are very proud of," he said.

The government is also reviewing existing labour and employment laws as part of the so-called Changing Workplaces Review to "help foster conditions that will improve the lives of workers and sustain a modern economic environment," Speers said. 

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