By Erin McLaughlin and Tom Davis

Toronto, Ontario -- November 24, 2017 -- The impact of employment laws can be huge for small firms, and collision repairers in Ontario have mixed views on the province's new employment legislation that the government claims will create “fair workplaces and better jobs.”

The recently-passed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017, will primarily affect part-time and contract workers. The new laws look to promote fairness in Ontario's workplaces and create more security and opportunity for vulnerable workers and their families. The act will raise the minimum wage, expand personal emergency leave, increase vacation time and step up enforcement of employment laws.

The new legislation seems to provide both benefits and negatives for independent businesses. The general consensus for those in the collision repair space, it seems, is that the new legislation will not have a significant impact on the way they operate.

Increased vacation time for workers in the collision repair industry could have a negative affect on bodyshops, claims Kevin Carlaw, owner of CSN-Carlaw. “This could be quite detrimental on our business. If our workers can take three or four weeks off each year as vacation it makes it difficult for us to hit our insurance KPIs,” he said. The Peterborough-based shop owner believes a raise in the minimum wage is a good plan. He commented: “I have always brought people in at a higher wage than the minimum wage, workers simply can't afford to live when earning the current minimum wage.”

Don Morton, agrees with Carlaw. The owner of Don-Mor CARSTAR Collision and Automotive in London, Ontario, commented the rise in minimum wage can only be a good thing for existing and potential workers, but that increased vacation time could potentially disrupt workflow. He added: “We don't have any contract or part-time employees, so I can't see this new legislation having a significant affect on the way we run our business.”

Increased protection for part-time and contract workers is the main reason behind the introduction of the new legislation, but for “progressive” companies this should not be a real concern, according to Kelly Roberts of Fix Auto North Bay. Roberts said: “New people entering the trade are financially driven. If we are waiting for the government to make these changes to minimum wage, then that's a sad state of affairs. We talk to our staff about what they want for the long-term. It's about all employing career staff, not temporary staff. The conversation is necessary for some businesses, but for proactive companies these changes should be a thing of the past.”

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 will:

  • Raise Ontario's general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.
  • Mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as employees at the agencies' client companies.
  • Bump personal emergency leave up to 10 days per calendar year for all employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week.
  • Ban employers from requiring a doctor's sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • Provide up to 17 weeks off without the fear of losing their job when a worker or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence, including paid leave for the first five days.
  • Bring Ontario's vacation time in line with the national average by ensuring at least three weeks' vacation after five years with the same employer.
  • Make employee scheduling fairer, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.
  • The government is also expanding family leaves and adding measures to ensure that employees are not misclassified as independent contractors, ensuring they get the benefits and protections they deserve.

Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, commented on the act: "Over the past two years, we’ve heard from people across the province about the need to update our labour and employment laws. Ontario workers deserve fair wages they can live on, as well as safe and fair working conditions. Too many families struggle to get by on part-time or temporary work. Those working full-time can be living in poverty. This is unacceptable in Ontario. The Fair Wages, Better Jobs Act will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity."

To enforce these changes, the province is hiring up to 175 more employment standards officers and is launching a program to educate both employees and businesses about their rights and obligations under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Keep reading Collision Repair magazine for more on how this legislation might affect the industry. If you have any thoughts on this new legislation and how it may affect your business, please email editor@collisionrepairmag.com.


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