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Leah F. Vosko, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work and Professor of Political Science, York University Capitalism and Good.

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Presentation on theme: "Leah F. Vosko, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work and Professor of Political Science, York University Capitalism and Good."— Presentation transcript:

1 Leah F. Vosko, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work and Professor of Political Science, York University Capitalism and Good Jobs October 15, 2014 Employment Standards: Coverage, Claims, and Enforcement Practices

2 Why Employment Standards (ES) Matter? Declining rates of unionization Growth of precarious employment ES legislating minimum conditions in areas such as wages, overtime, vacations are the only source of workplace protection for a mounting number of workers State inspectorates are experimenting with new models of enforcement

3 Three Key Areas Where Further Progress is Needed 1)Coverage – expanding the population of workers who are actually covered by ES 2)Improvements to workers’ access to the enforcement system 3)Further investment in proactive and deterrence measures

4 1. Expanding Coverage Several large categories of workers are formally exempted from the ESA entirely, including workers who are not formally classified as employees Migrant live-in caregivers and temporary agency workers poorly served by ESA protections historically, extended better protection in 2009 Different levels of coverage for workers assumed to be formally covered undermine the ESA (e.g., farmworkers, supervisors)

5 Low-income workers are less likely to be fully covered by all ESA provisions Statistics Canada, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), 2011, Public Use Microdata File

6 Young workers are less likely to be fully covered by all ESA provisions Statistics Canada, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), 2011, Public Use Microdata File

7 2.Improving Access to ES: Enforcement Laws on the books mean very little if workers aren’t able to effectively see their enforcement The ESA enforcement system is more accessible than in the past, but remains reactive, primarily triggered by complaints Often inaccessible for workers who remain on the job and fear employer retaliation, which can be subtle and difficult to substantiate. In Ontario, there is no provision for anonymous or confidential complaints

8 Claims decline while labour force grows Ontario Ministry of Labour Results Based Plan 2013

9 3. Investing in Proactive and Deterrence Measures Ontario’s enforcement system is driven by complaints Complaints are only the tip of the iceberg Weil estimates 130 ES violations for every single complaint filed in the U.S. Many sectors characterized by high rates of ES violations generate few complaints Proactive enforcement is necessary

10 Proactive Inspections Sources: Ontario Ministry of Labour, Employment Standards/Practices Branch, Fiscal Year Reports, to ; Ontario Ministry of Labour, Employment Standards Program, Annual Reports, ; see also: Thomas 2009.

11 The Enforcement Pyramid

12 Conclusion Employment standards are increasingly critical to ensuring the quality of jobs Effective employment standards require further improvements to the scope of their coverage Workers require access to enforcement activities that are both proactive and deterrent when necessary Opportunities exist to build on best practices developed in other jurisdictions


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