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June 10th, 2004:

MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT ACTS TO PROTECT WORKERS

 

In addition to establishing the Minister’s Employment Standards Action Group, the McGuinty government is protecting workers through legislation that would end the 60-hour work week, measures to increase awareness of workplace rights and responsibilities, and more rigorous enforcement of employment standards law.

 

Need for Change

The government is acting in response to complaints from employers and employees that some companies are not complying with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Concerns have also been raised that some employers and employees do not know their rights and obligations under the ESA.

 

Employees also stated they felt pressured into agreeing to work extra hours under the changes introduced under the previous government through the ESA.

 

The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Hours of Work and Other Matters), 2004, introduced on April 26, 2004 and currently before the Legislature, would ensure employees have a genuine choice about working extra hours and would fulfill the government’s commitment to end the “60-hour work week”.

 

 Outreach and Awareness

Awareness and knowledge of employment standards law by employees and employers is critical to achieving increased compliance. The ministry will be undertaking the following initiatives:

 

·         Working with stakeholders to provide web-based information about employment standards rights and responsibilities;

·         Acting with community partners to get information to those who need it, especially recent immigrants who may not know their rights and those whose first language is not English or French;

·         Making information available in a variety of languages;

·         The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Hours of Work and Other Matters), 2004 would, if passed, require that employees requested to work excess hours be given a Ministry of Labour-produced information sheet that sets out employee rights around hours of work and overtime pay; and

·         A streamlined process for quicker turnaround and file closures.

 

Enforcement

Enhanced enforcement measures will also ensure increased compliance with the law. These will include:

 

·         Targeted inspections of workplaces – focusing on high risk employers – for compliance with all aspects of the ESA;

·         Stricter enforcement, including prosecutions where warranted;

·         A new proposed requirement that employees be given a Ministry of Labour-produced information sheet that sets out employees’ rights about hours of work and overtime pay; and

·         Significantly enhanced and simplified web-based access to better information for employers and employees.

 

Penalties

If convicted under the act, corporations may be fined up to $100,000 for a first offence, $250,000 for a second and $500,000 for a third or more offence. An individual can be fined up to $50,000 or sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, or both.

 

Contacts:

Belinda Sutton
Ministry of Labour
416-326-7405


Written By: Ministry Of Labour
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