Closing the Enforcement Gap: Improving Employment Standards Protections for People in Precarious Jobs
Webinar Presentation with Leah Vosko, Andrea Noack, Rebecca Casey, Alan Hall, Mark Thomas, and Adam Perry.
The nature of employment is changing: low wage jobs are increasingly common, fewer workers belong to unions, and workplaces are being transformed through the growth of contracting-out, franchising, and extended supply chains. These changes leave employment standards, which set minimum terms and conditions of employment in areas such as wages, working time, vacations and leaves, and termination and severance of employment, as the sole source of protection for workers in precarious jobs. This webinar will present the findings of a comprehensive analysis of the enforcement of employment standards in Ontario that are the basis for a forthcoming book Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap: Improving Protections for People in Precarious Jobs. Adopting mixed-methods, including qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with workers, community advocates, and enforcement officials, archival research excavating decades of ministerial records, and analysis of a previously untapped source of administrative data collected by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, we will reveal and trace the roots of a deepening ‘enforcement gap’ that pervades nearly all aspects of the regime, demonstrating that the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) fails too many workers who rely on the floor of minimum conditions it was devised to provide.
The webinar will first provide an overview of the project before chronicling challenges confronting the employment standards complaints system (Leah Vosko), followed by discussions on inspections (Andrea Noack), wage recovery (Rebecca Casey), deterrence (Alan Hall), and participatory enforcement (Mark Thomas). It will conclude by reflecting on recommendations to strengthen employment standards enforcement. After the panel presentations, On the Move’s Adam Perry will reflect on the study’s results from the standpoint of employment-related mobility.