New law to make employers accountable for temp worker injuries

March 9, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Employers who use temporary employment agencies will no longer be able to evade liability for workplace accidents, the Star has learned, as new legislation promises to hold them responsible when temps are injured or killed on the job.

Last year a Star investigation showed how companies use temp agencies to cut costs and limit liability for accidents because temp agencies were considered workers' so-called employer of record at the provincial compensation board. As a result, the agency took the financial hit if a temp got hurt, not the place where they were actually injured.

That will now change, making Ontario one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to hold employers accountable in this way.

In a statement to the Star, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said government will proclaim legislation written three years ago but never enacted. The resurrected section of Bill 18 will now require the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to "ascribe injuries and accident costs to the clients of temporary help agencies" where injuries occur -- not the agencies themselves.

"This will create a fairer system and make workplaces safer for temporary help agency workers in Ontario," he said.

Workers' rights advocates and occupational health researchers have long pushed for the reforms, arguing they would remove existing incentives for employers to shift risky work onto temp agency workers who often receive little training or protection.

"This has been such a huge issue for such a long time that it's so, so great that it's getting proclaimed," said Deena Ladd of the Toronto-based Workers' Action Centre. "I think we can now finally hold the companies (accountable) that should have been held jointly and severally liable for decades for injuries.”

Read more: New law to make employers accountable for temp worker injuries