Sunday, 10 July 2016

Non-Adherence to Employment Standards Harms the Economy


I'm a call-taker at a local taxi company.  I get 32 hours every weekend.  Last Friday, I woke to a spinning room and called in to see if anyone could cover that shift.  The acting office manager returned my call saying she covered that shift and covered my Saturday and Sunday shifts as well. Apparently, my employer feels that they have the right to do this, though employment standards disagrees.  I begged for those hours back, guaranteeing I would be able to come in, to no avail.

Because of this, my pay was short.  Because of that my rent was short.  Now I'm sure one late tenant will not bankrupt Homestead, but as you can see, an employer's non-adherence to the labor laws affects more than just the employees.

Ontario's Employment Standards operate on a complaint basis.  There is no oversight to ensure hard-working employees are treated fairly and lawfully.  Instead, adherence is only enforced if and when an employee files a complaint.  The complaint process is anything but simple and almost always ends with the employee being fired, though the law disagrees with that as well.

The problems are many, and like many other problems, they are due to lack of education.  Most employees don't know the standards, most managers don't know the standards, and most employers don't know that the standards apply to them.  Labor laws are what separate Canada from countries where employees have no rights, and yet they seem to be optional here.

One would assume that upon starting a business, a person would have to educate themselves on all things lawful in business.  But they don't.  It seems that anyone can be a manager these days.  It takes no training to manage others day in and day out?

So why is the employer more important to law-makers than the employee?  We are the many.  We are the front line of their business responsible for the day-to-day transactions with their loyal patrons. We're not important enough for oversight?

What happens is a lot like parenting.  As an employee you choose your battles.  I work 12 hour shifts and I should by law get two un-paid half hour breaks and two paid 15 minute breaks.  But I don't.  I get one paid half hour break and the ability to get up and go to the loo when I want.  And that's it.
I choose my battles because it could be worse elsewhere.  Isn't that a sad state of affairs?

So while many of us stretch paychecks to make ends meet, we're too often faced with less than we're due.  How many rent or mortgage payments are late or low because of broken employment standards?  How much credit card interest is tacked on because we can't make the full payment each month?  How many medications are rationed because we can't afford the whole month's pills?  How many purchases are not made because employers are breaking laws and effecting your income to build up their own?  The answer is, "far too many".  Far too many of us have employers who don't know the law and if they do know it, they don't follow it.  And the ministry has no idea.  The only way they'd know, is if I or YOU voice these facts.  The shunning of employment law is hindering our precious economy.  And we're letting it happen.

Is employment standards a worthlessly inefficient and ineffective ministry?  Yes in my opinion it is. The entire program relies on self-regulation, and we all know how well that works for the people.  In true blog form, I have no answers to give, I'm only hear to tell my tale.  But as I sit here and mentally prepare myself to go to into this hell-hole, I just keep thinking . . . . . . .

....this is Canada ... we are more than this!