the consultation paper on work through temporary help agencies by housework

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									Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008
A Commitment to Training and Employment for Women (ACTEW) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Ministry of Labour’s Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies. We also attended an in-person consultation with the Ministry on June 23, 2008. ACTEW advances women’s economic security through the promotion of labour force development for women. ACTEW is a network of agencies providing community-based employment and training services for women in Ontario. ACTEW envisions employment and training services and programs as the bridge to women's economic self-sufficiency. Temporary Work in Ontario With one third of Ontario workers engaged in temporary work, the Ministry’s Consultation is a timely and important activity. The Ministry’s Consultation Paper states that: “the McGuinty Government is committed to ensuring that employees working through temporary help agencies are properly protected under the law,” a statement which ACTEW applauds. Protection for temporary workers is a key concern for our agency. Temporary work, as it is currently unfolds through some privately owned temporary help agencies in Ontario, does not advance women’s economic security, nor does it contribute to the health of Ontario’s economy. Many women are temporary workers, especially those who are racialized, immigrants or young. In 2004, 14% of Canadian women worked temporarily, compared with 12% of men. Women are almost twice as likely as men to be part-time temporary workers. *
215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 350, Toronto, ON M5T 2C7 T: (416) 599-3590 | F: (416) 599-2043 | info@actew.org | www.actew.org

Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008

Temporary workers are not fully protected or supported by Canadian employment and labour laws and policies, which are designed around the full-time permanent model of employment. These workers rarely have access to workplace-specific benefits, such as health plans and union coverage, and government-related benefits, such as Employment Insurance (EI), the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and the Canadian Pension Plan. They have no financial compensation when they are sick yet are more likely to suffer work related injuries. They report high levels of stress due to the unpredictability of their work schedules, availability of employment, and income. Workplaces and industries that tend to hire temporary workers are less likely to be regulated, resulting in more opportunity for violations of health and safety regulations, discrimination, and harassment. Temporary workers are also at greater risk of unemployment. A temporary worker makes on average, $4 less an hour than a permanent full-time worker. A part-time temporary worker makes $11 less an hour. Technically part-time temporary workers are covered by Employment Insurance, but because they must work the same number of hours as all other employees to qualify they rarely are able to access EI training grants and loans – unless they can demonstrate that they are completely unemployed. ACTEW’s Submission to the Consultation ACTEW supports the submission put forward by the Workers’ Action Centre. In particular, ACTEW supports these points from the Centre’s submission: •
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“Elect to Work” exemptions are unfair to temporary workers and should not be allowed.
No agency should be able to state in a contract with a client business that the client business cannot hire the agency’s temporary workers into permanent positions. No agency should be able to state in its contract with an employee that the employee cannot take a permanent job with its client business(es). These practices prevent businesses from hiring skilled, trained workers familiar with their particular work environment, and prevent workers from gaining permanent, secure employment which in the long term better serves both workers and the Ontario economy. No agency should prohibit client businesses from providing references. Prohibiting references is an unfair barrier to employment for temporary agency workers and greatly restricts the worker’s ability to gain permanent employment elsewhere, particularly when that individual lacks recent Canadian work experience. An agency should not be able to charge a worker an upfront registration fee. An agency should not be able to charge a fee for mandatory services such as resume writing and cover letters. These services are offered for free from non-profit agencies that are funded by the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

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Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008

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Temporary agencies and their client businesses must be jointly and severally liable for violations of the Employment Standards Act, and there should be no exemptions. This would protect workers in vulnerable situations by recognizing the reality of the triangular employment relationship. The signed contract between client company, agency and worker should be required for each assignment, which would include explicit information about the duties associated with the assignment. The worker should be entitled to a copy of this signed agreement. Agencies should also provide workers with accessible legal information on their rights under the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, such as the right to refuse work in unsafe working conditions. Agencies must be transparent with workers on the mark-up for placements. This mark-up should be regulated according to the costs incurred by the agency. This would help to bring the Employment Standards Act in line with the Human Rights Code.

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While these points respond to the questions asked in the Ministry’s Consultation paper, ACTEW also supports the Workers’ Action Centre’s recommendations on key issues not covered by the Consultation. • Comprehensive Updating of Employment Standards: Employment in Ontario has dramatically changed over the past 30 years and many of the systems we have in place, such as EI and our labour laws, do not support the work force. Currently one-third of Canadian workers are employed in temporary, part-time or own account self employment, with higher rates in some areas, like Toronto. ACTEW supports the Workers’ Action Centre’s recommendation that: The Ontario government must embed changes to protect temp agency workers in a much larger strategy to update and improve employment standards to address new forms of work. Expanding the scope of the ESA to protect all workers is an essential step in this process. • Employment Standards Enforcement: Under-funding of enforcement greatly limits improvements to current conditions for temporary workers. With little to fall back on when their rights are violated, workers have no real protection under the law. ACTEW supports the Workers’ Action Centre’s recommendation that: The Ontario government must dedicate the resources necessary to improve enforcement. For recommendations and strategies, see the Workers’ Action Centre report on improving enforcement, Working on the Edge (2007).

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Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008

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Equality and non-discrimination for temporary agency workers The Employment Standards Act must be brought into compliance with the Human Rights Code to prevent discrimination against temporary workers by ensuring equality in wages and working conditions between workers hired directly by companies and those hired indirectly through temp agencies. ACTEW supports the Workers’ Action Centre’s recommendation that: Indirect and temporary agency workers should receive the same working and employment conditions (pay package, statutory and employer-sponsored benefits and conditions) that the client company provides to other workers in all forms of comparable work.

Times Change, an ACTEW member agency which provides employment and training services to women in Toronto, also made a submission to the Ministry of Labour on temporary work. ACTEW supports the recommendation from Times Change that the Ontario Government require temporary agencies to comply with the Pay Equity Act. Much more needs to be done to make the Pay Equity Act a reality, especially in the private sector. By requiring temporary agencies to comply with the Act, the Ontario Government would be giving a very clear signal of its support for workers who experience pay discrimination. Temporary Work as a Transition Tool for Those Seeking Permanent Employment: A Model from the Non-Profit Sector ACTEW believes temporary work can be a positive form of employment but only when it is used to transition people into permanent employment. ACTEW’s members in the community-based employment and training sector use temporary placements as a stepping stone to permanent work. Organizations serving immigrants set up temporary placements as a way to introduce newcomers to the Canadian workplace and to help them gain Canadian work experience and references. Re-entrants to the workforce, youth and those entering new fields of work are other client groups for whom temporary work placements are an opportunity to learn new skills, put training into practice and adjust to a new working environment. ACTEW’s members see temporary work as having the potential to offer an opportunity for all parties. The employer gains appropriately skilled temporary assistance from individuals training and prepared by the employment organization. The worker gains experience and confidence, an employer reference and in some cases, the opportunity to move from a temporary position into a full-time one in the same workplace. Temporary placements can provide employment organizations with on-the-ground training opportunities for individual clients and can be an opportunity to build a reputation in the community for serving employers with a suitably prepared workforce. Effort is made by organizations to ensure that individual workers will succeed in their placement and that 4

Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008

all parties are satisfied by the experience. These positive outcomes can only be achieved if adequate regulation of this sector is in place. The following practices undertaken in ACTEW agencies offer a model of positive temporary work experience. The organization’s job developer staff visit the employer workplace to ensure that it is safe and proper policies and procedures are in place. The employer submits a job description to the agency setting out the skills require and tasks. The more detailed the job description, the more accurately the agency can meet the employer’s needs. The agency matches an individual, based on her skills, experience and interest, with the position. The agency helps her prepare for the recruitment process, including any training in preparation for the position. There is no placement fee for the individual nor is she charged for any of the recruitment preparatory services. The agency is clear with the employer and the individual on the expectations of the placement: the length of the placement, the compensation, what skills and experience the individual has, the detailed job description, opportunities within the workplace for skill development, etc. This individual is paid by the employment agency, and the employer pays the agency. This ensures that the individual receives her wages in a timely and consistent manner. The agency acts as a mediator for the two parties if difficulties arise during the placement. In some cases, agencies are able to provide benefits to the individual client because they are on the agency’s payroll, thus providing further protection for the worker. When the placement is complete, the client returns to the agency to review the placement experience and update her resume. If the placement was a success, the employer will provide a letter of reference. If it was less successful, the agency helps the individual learn from her experience; for example, she may require further training. Using a process such as this, temporary work can be a step on the path to permanent and sustaining employment. Workers are assured a safe workplace, paid fairly, appropriately matched for the position, gain experience, and have an advocate to turn to if difficulties arise.

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Submission to the Ministry of Labour Consultation on Work through Temporary Help Agencies from ACTEW, July 2008

Conclusion Temporary work is a distinct form of employment relatively new to Ontario, yet few supports exist for these workers who now make up one-third of the workforce. It is unclear what some private sector temporary help agencies contribute to the economy of Ontario. They restrict the ability of individuals to gain permanent employment, and thus to become higher earners, more securely employed, and greater tax contributors. They restrict employers from hiring temporary workers into permanent positions and therefore stabilizing their workforce. Temporary work is acceptable only when used as a step on the path to permanent employment. Non-profit community-based organizations in Ontario, such as ACTEW’s members, use this model to move individuals into permanent employment positions and to support local employers.

For further information, please contact: Paula Wansbrough, Executive Director, ACTEW 416-599-3590 or paula@actew.org
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For references and further information on temporary work, please see the attached, Contingent Work: Employment Facts from ACTEW (April 2007).

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