Proposed legislation in the province of Ontario would make buyers and their suppliers jointly responsible for unpaid wages and prohibit charging recruitment fees for immigrant workers. Some say many aspects of Bill 146 are positive and would hold unethical staffing firms and clients accountable, but others say the law could make use of staffing firms less attractive.
The legislation was introduced this week. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the “Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act” will:
- Make both staffing buyers and staffing firms liable for unpaid wages and unpaid overtime under the Employment Standards Act of 2000.
- Require the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, under its experience rating programs, to assign workplace injury costs to the staffing buyer instead of staffing firms when a temporary employee is injured at work.
- Remove a C$10,000 cap under the Employment Standards Act on the recovery of unpaid wages owed through a Ministry of Labour Order to pay. Employees would no longer have to pursue larger claims through the courts.
- Increase the time limit for recovery of wages under the Employment Standards Act to two years from six- and 12-month periods.
- Prohibit charging of fees for recruitment and placement to employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or temporary foreign employee program. It would also prohibit withholding of personal documents such as passports.
- Require employers to provide a French and English handout containing information about rights under the Employment Standards Act to employees. An employer would also have to provide the material in one of 23 other languages upon request.
- Extend coverage under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to co-op students, trainees and other unpaid learners.
“Our government is standing up for workers and increasing fairness for business with this bill,” Ontario Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi said in a press release. “It’s about taking action to protect the most vulnerable workers and level the playing field for employers who play by the rules because we know that these are the building blocks of a stronger workplace, a stronger economy and a stronger Ontario.”
The Toronto Star newspaper reports on the bill further, click here for the story.
Law firm Stringer LLP also discusses the law here.