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Blitz Results: Precarious Employment and Temporary Foreign Workers

  • Issued: November 16, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: November 2015

Some employees are at greater risk than others of not receiving their employment standards entitlements. They may also lack the ability and/or resources to understand their rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

From May 1 to July 31, 2015, Ministry of Labour employment standards officers conducted two simultaneous blitzes focusing on:

  • new, young and vulnerable workers engaged in “precarious employment” and
  • temporary foreign workers engaged in all types of employment arrangements.

The Ministry of Labour considers temporary foreign workers to be those who have obtained work in Ontario through the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Precarious employment refers to work that is seasonal, part-time or temporary. Such work is unlike a traditional employment relationship that involves a full-time, permanent arrangement with one employer.

Temporary foreign workers, new, young and other vulnerable workers are more likely to be employed in precarious employment.

The goals of these blitzes were to educate employers and promote compliance with the ESA in sectors that often employ these vulnerable workers.

Overview

Workplaces visited during the precarious employment blitz included:

  • amusement and recreation industries
  • building services (e.g. janitorial, maid services, etc.)
  • investigation and security services

Workplaces visited during the temporary foreign workers blitz included:

  • restaurants
  • agriculture (vegetable farming, other crop farming, etc.)
  • construction

In both blitzes, employment standards officers checked to see if employers were complying with core ESA standards, with a particular focus on:

  • record keeping
  • hours of work
  • overtime pay
  • minimum wage
  • public holidays

Officers delivered educational packages to every workplace inspected during the blitzes. These packages included:

Results

Table 1 – Precarious Employment Blitz – May 1 to July 31, 2015
Total inspections 304
Employers compliant [1] 72
Employers not compliant 232
Compliance tools issued [2] 758
Rate of voluntary compliance [3] 96%
Money recovered for employees Over $361,000
Most common monetary violations
  • public holiday pay
  • overtime pay
  • vacation pay
Most common non-monetary violations
  • hours of work - excess daily/weekly
  • vacation pay - written agreements
  • record-keeping

[1] No violations found
[2] Compliance orders, notices of contravention, offence notices (ticket) or orders to pay wages
[3] Percentage of money owing to employees, assessed during the blitz and voluntarily paid by employers

Table 2 – Temporary Foreign Workers Blitz – May 1 to July 31, 2015
Total inspections 64
Employers compliant [4] 24
Employers not compliant 40
Compliance tools issued [5] 112
Rate of voluntary compliance [6] 99%
Money recovered for employees Over $17,800
Most common monetary violations
  • public holiday pay
  • vacation pay
  • overtime pay
Most common non-monetary violations
  • record-keeping
  • vacation pay - written agreements
  • wage statements

[4] No violations found
[5] Compliance orders, notices of contravention, offence notices (ticket) or orders to pay wages
[6] Percentage of money owing to employees, assessed during the blitz and voluntarily paid by employers

Compliance enforcement summary

An employment standards officer can issue a non-monetary compliance order if the officer finds an 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.

In total, officers issued:

  • 704 compliance orders during the precarious employment blitz and
  • 107 compliance orders during the temporary foreign workers blitz.

When monetary contraventions are found and voluntary compliance is not achieved, an officer issues an order to pay wages. One order to pay wages was issued during the precarious employment blitz.

Officers also issued tickets under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act to some employers during the blitzes. The tickets included a fine of $295 plus a victim fine surcharge.

In total, officers issued:

  • 47 tickets during the precarious employment blitz and
  • five tickets 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.

In total, officers issued:

  • Six notices of contravention during the precarious employment blitz.