CLOSE THE EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS GAP RESEARCH INITIATIVE

Have you ever faced a problem at work? At your workplace, were you not paid wages, overtime pay, or vacation pay? Did you have problems with your hours, breaks, or scheduling? Were you laid off without any notice or termination pay?

If you faced any of these or other problems in your workplace, your employment standards were violated. If you filed a claim with the Ministry of Labour regarding these problems, we would like to hear from you.

We are currently working on a research project entitled Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap: A Research Initiative on Improving Protections for People in Precarious Jobs. This is an Ontario-wide collaborative research initiative conducted by a team of researchers from 7 Ontario universities and community partners and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The goals of the research are to understand the nature and scope of employment standards violations among low-wage workers in Ontario and the associated enforcement challenges. More information about the project can be found here:

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The research in Windsor is supervised by Dr. Urvashi Soni-Sinha at the University of Windsor. She can be reached at 519-253-3000 ext. 2198 or urvashi@uwindsor.ca.

We are looking for research participants:

  • Who identify as workers 
  • Whose wage earnings are less than $18 per hour 
  • Who are not students 
  • Who have filed a claim with the Ministry of Labour

If you fit these criteria, please consider contacting us to schedule an interview.

Interview details:

  • Participation is completely voluntary. You can stop participating at any time, for any reason.
  • All information will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside the research team.
  • Interviews will take 60-90 minutes, and at a time and location convenient to you. 
  • You will receive an honorarium of $40 for participation. Your travel expenses will be covered in addition to the honorarium.
  • If you or someone you know is interested, please contact: Ayesha Mian Akram, Research Assistant: amian@uwindsor.ca or call Toll-Free: 1-855-736-5331

Please consider taking some time to volunteer so that we can work together to create positive change in Ontario’s workplaces.

Recent Ministry of Labour enforcement blitz finds 83% of workplaces in violation of the ESA!

Click Image to read and download report

Click Image to read and download report

The provincial vulnerable and temporary foreign workers blitz ran from September 1 to November 30, 2014, and was the fifth province-wide employment standards blitz conducted by the Ministry of Labour.

The ministry considers vulnerable workers to be those who work in sectors where they may be at greater risk of having their rights violated, and who may lack the ability or resources to understand their rights. Vulnerable workers may include temporary foreign workers, young workers, newcomers to Canada, and those whose first language is neither English nor French.

The purpose of the blitz was to promote compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) in industry sectors that often employ vulnerable workers, as well as to educate employers in these sectors about their ESA obligations. The types of workplaces inspected included:

  • restaurants
  • personal care services (e.g., hair, esthetics, massage services, etc.)
  • business support services
  • horticulture (e.g. nurseries, greenhouses, etc.)
  • agriculture (e.g. vegetable farming, cattle ranching, etc.)

Officers checked for compliance with core ESA standards, with a particular focus on:

  • public holidays
  • vacation pay
  • minimum wage
  • record-keeping
  • payment of wages

During the blitz, employment standards officers delivered educational packages to every workplace inspected. The packages included:

Results

Vulnerable workers

206 inspections were completed:

  • 35 employers were compliant and no violations were found.
  • 171 employers were found to be non-compliant. As a result, 535 compliance “tools” (e.g., Compliance Order, Notice of Contravention or Part 1 Ticket) were issued.
  • 99.9 per cent of the monies owing to employees assessed during the blitz were paid voluntarily by the employer.
  • Over $175,390 was recovered for 1,406 employees.
  • The most common monetary violations were for:
    • public holiday pay
    • vacation pay
    • overtime pay
  • The most common non-monetary violations were for:
    • record-keeping
    • hours of work – excess daily/weekly
    • vacation pay – written agreements

Temporary foreign workers

50 inspections were completed:

  • 23 employers were compliant and no violations were found.
  • 27 employers were found to be non-compliant. As a result, 53 compliance “tools” (e.g., Compliance Order, Notice of Contravention or Part 1 Ticket) were issued.
  • 100 per cent of the monies owing to temporary foreign workers assessed during the blitz were paid voluntarily by the employer.
  • Over $34,725 was recovered for 127 temporary foreign workers.
  • The most common monetary violations were for:
    • deduction from wages
    • public holiday pay
    • vacation pay
  • The most common non-monetary violations were for:
    • posting requirement
    • record-keeping
    • vacation pay – written agreements

Compliance enforcement summary

An employment standards officer can issue a non-monetary Compliance Order if the officer finds that the employer has contravened the ESA. The officer can order an employer or other person to stop contravening a provision and to take certain steps to comply.

  • 467 Compliance Orders were issued during the vulnerable workers blitz.
  • 50 Compliance Orders were issued during the temporary foreign workers blitz.

An employment standards officer may also issue an Offence Notice (“ticket”) under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act, carrying a fine of $295 plus a victim fine surcharge.

  • 52 Part 1 Tickets were issued during the vulnerable workers blitz.
  • 2 Part 1 Tickets were issued during the temporary foreign workers blitz.

Employment standards officers have the power to issue Notices of Contravention with prescribed penalties starting at $250 when they believe an employer has contravened a provision of the ESA.

  • 16 Notices of Contravention were issued during the vulnerable workers blitz.
  • 1 Notice of Contravention was issued during the temporary foreign workers blitz.

International Socialist Review: “The political economy
 of low-wage labor” by By Trish Kahle

“The struggles of fast-food, retail, and other service workers since 2012 have thrust the issue of low-wage work into the national spotlight and shifted the national debate over whether to raise the minimum wage from the federally mandated non-tipped wage of $7.25 per hour. Courageous workers like George Walker, a cabin cleaner at Philadelphia International Airport, have begun challenging their impoverishment as corporate profits soar. “I am over fifty,” Walker said, “and tired of living in poverty.” Walker—forced to choose between paying for his wife’s medicine and covering the family’s housing costs—and other workers like him who have joined organizing campaigns, have highlighted the moral depravity of companies that sweep aside the daily struggles of workers in order to maximize profits. Yet even as public opinion has shifted decisively in favor of raising the minimum wage, the size of the low-wage workforce has continued to grow. Nearly 40 percent of American workers earn less than the $15.00 an hour demanded by the low-wage workers movement,1 and the experience of low-wage work is a common one. Still, myths abound about low-wage labor, its origins, and the workers who perform it. The ruling class has much at stake in this fight in which workers confront not only their wages and working conditions, but the ideological apparatus of neoliberalism, which stresses individual responsibility and deregulation. Neoliberal policies, media myths, and the intersection with oppression that many low-wage workers face collude to keep them marginalized. This persists even as their labor, particularly the labor of those in industries like healthcare and education, remain central drivers of economic growth.2″

Read the rest of this excellent article HERE.