Temporary Workers In Canada

What you should know when working for temporary employment agencies in Ontario

Temp jobs are on the rise in Canada.

Working for a temp agency can be a good way to gain exposure to and experience in a variety of fields and workplace environments. It can help you gain experience and skills, make contacts and possibly even secure fulfilling, permanent employment.

But working for a temp agency is not without its risks and challenges.

With a growing number of people employed by temporary employment agencies, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about your employment rights when working for a temp agency.

What is a temporary employment agency?

In short, temp agencies provide workers to companies that need to fill positions for short periods of time. According to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), temporary employment agencies “employ people to assign them to perform work on a temporary basis for clients of the agency.”

The employment relationship

As an employee of a temporary employment agency, you are considered an assignment employee. As an assignment employee, the temp agency is your employer and you are assigned to perform work for the agency’s clients. The clients for whom you will be performing work are not your employer.

A work assignment begins the first day you perform work or receive training from a client and ends when the work is completed or ended by the client.

Your employment relationship with your temp agency is considered ongoing even when you are working on assignment for a client of the agency. Furthermore, your employer-employee relationship with your temp agency continues between work assignments, it does not end with the completion of a work assignment.

Your temp agency and its clients are both responsible for recording your number of work hours. These records must be kept readily available for an employment standards officer for three years. Furthermore, liability for unpaid wages falls on both the agency and the client.

Important information when working for a temp agency

Upon being hired by a temporary employment agency, you must receive the following information:

  1. The agency’s legal name and contact information (contact names, phone number and address)
  2. A copy of Your employment standards rights: Temporary help agency assignment employees in your preferred language

Upon being offered a work assignment, you must receive the following information:

  1. The client’s legal name and contact info (address, phone number and contact names)
  2. The hourly wage or commission and benefits
  3. Hours of work
  4. A basic description of the work
  5. Estimated length of the assignment
  6. Pay period and pay day

Your rights when working for a temporary employment agency

Unfortunately, temp agencies have earned a reputation as exploitative employers. In 2015, fully 75% of temp agencies audited by the Ministry of Labour broke the law. Violations included offences regarding overtime, holiday pay, vacation pay, illegal deduction from workers’ wages, and poor record keeping.

To protect yourself from being taken advantage of, it is important that you know your rights.

Working for a temp agency, you generally have the same rights as other employees under the ESA. However, there are also certain rules in the ESA specific to assignment employees, temporary employment agencies and their clients. Specifically, temporary employment agencies cannot:

  • charge fees to an employee for becoming an agency employee, for trying to assign the employee assignments or for helping the employee prepare resumes or for job interviews
  • restrict an employee from accepting direct employment with clients or prevent clients from giving employees references
  • ask for your SIN, date of birth or country of origin on the application form before you’ve been offered a job

In addition to being covered by the ESA, temporary employment agency employees are covered by the Ontario Human Rights Act, Ontario Health and Safety Act, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and Employment Insurance.

Unfortunately, previous legislation that guaranteed temporary assignment workers equal pay for their work compared to permanent employees was changed by Bill 47. Now, assignment workers can once again be paid less than their permanent employee counterparts.

Help for assignment workers

If you believe that your employee rights have been violated while working for a temporary employment agency, you have the file a complaint through an employment standards claim. The employment law experts at KCY at LAW are here to help you understand your rights and file a successful claim against exploitative employers. Call us today to book your consultation at 905-639-0999 or connect with us online by filling out a consultation request form.

The Limitation Period for Wrongful Dismissals in Ontario

The time frame in which any claim can be brought forth against an employer – including for wrongful dismissal – is set out by the 2002 Limitations Act.

The time in which you have to bring a claim forward is referred to as the ‘limitation period’. This means that from the moment a cause for a claim arises, time is ticking for you to bring it forward.

Different claims have different limitation periods. While there are very few exceptions to limitation periods, they may, under certain rare circumstances, be extended.

If you fail to bring your claim forward within the limitation period then it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to sue for wrongful dismissal

According to the Act, wrongful dismissal claims must be brought forward within two years of the day the claim was discovered.

What is considered the date of ‘discovery’?

According to the Limitations Act, the date of discovery occurs on the earlier of:

  1. the day on which the person with the claim first knew,
      1. that the injury, loss or damage had occurred,
      2. that the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission,
      3. that the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is made, and
      4. that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy it; and
  2. the day on which a reasonable person with the abilities and in the circumstances of the person with the claim first ought to have known of the matters referred to in clause a.

This means that, in the vast majority of cases, a wrongful dismissal claim is discovered the day that the employee is given notice of their termination.

The 2006 case of Jones v. Friedman confirmed that:

a limitation period commences when the cause of action arises. In a breach of contract, the cause of action arises when the contract was breached. For the purposes of a wrongful dismissal action, the employment contract is breached when the employer dismisses the employee without reasonable notice.”

According to Jones v. Friedman, the injury, loss or damage (the “cause of action”) occurs at the time of notice and not the date that the employment actually ends.

What to do if you think you have been wrongfully dismissed

If you believe that you have been wrongfully dismissed from your employment, talk to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. They have the knowledge and expertise to go over your case and recommend the best course of action for you. They will ensure that any claims to which you may be entitled are brought forward in a timely manner.

Call us today to book your consultation at 905-639-0999 or connect with us online by filling out a consultation request form.

Illegal Interview Questions: What They Are And What To Do About Them

Are you married? How old are you? How’s your health? Have you ever been arrested? What country are you from? Do you like to drink?

These are probably not questions you want to be asked by someone you barely know, let alone by someone determining your future employment. These prying inquiries may be a faux-pas in polite conversation but they are an absolute no-go in the context of a job interview.

Illegal Interview Questions

Sometimes, versions of these questions may come up casually and innocently in the context of a job interview as employers want to make sure that you will also be a good fit for the company. However, Canadian human rights law prohibits interviewers to ask questions concerning:

  • Country/place of origin and citizenship status
  • Religion, faith or creed
  • Age
  • Gender or sexual orientation
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Family structure, children or marital status
  • Mental or physical health and disability
  • Appearance, height and weight
  • Pardoned offences

With very limited exceptions, it is forbidden to ask questions about any of these topics at any point in the hiring process. Questions should only seek information relevant to the candidate’s ability to perform the job for which they are applying.

How To Deal With Illegal Questions During An Interview

In interviews, passing references to some of these topics may come up – “sorry to delay, my kid is sick and was on the phone, you got kids?”

It is also regrettably possible that an interviewer may make glaringly inappropriate inquiries – “We’re looking for someone committed, do you plan on having children in the future?”

It is up to you to decide in that moment how you want to deal with the situation. Depending on the circumstances, you might not want to stop the interview in its tracks and instead decide to deflect or even directly answer the question. Some options when confronted with this situation are:

  1. “My [family status/country of origin etc.] does not affect my ability to perform this job.”
  2. “I’d prefer not to answer this question unless there is a particular reason why it is relevant.”
  3. “Can you please explain to me how this is applicable to my performance of the job?”

The trouble with certain inappropriate questions is that, even if they were asked in passing and without mal-intent, they leave open the question of what role your answers to them played in the hiring process.

Kartuzova v HMA Pharmacy Ltd.

According to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), simply asking improper questions is enough to prove discrimination. Such was the case with Kartuzova v HMA Pharmacy Ltd. In this case, Kartuzova applied for a position as a pharmacy technician and was denied the job after an interview ended suddenly following questions about her family and marital status, financial situation, and how she came to Canada. Kartuzova said she had felt obligated to answer these questions and that the tone of what had otherwise been a very positive interview changed abruptly following her answers. The OHRT ruled that the questions Kartuzova had been asked were in violation of the Human Rights Code and ordered the pharmacy to pay her $4,000 for loss of dignity and $496.13 for lost wages.

Employment Law Experts

If you have been asked inappropriate or discriminatory questions during an interview that you felt affected your employment offer, KCY at LAW can help you to register a claim with the OHRT to seek compensation for your lost opportunity. Call us at (905) 639-0999 or reach us online to book your consultation.