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:
- The agency’s legal name and contact information (contact names, phone number and address)
- 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:
- The client’s legal name and contact info (address, phone number and contact names)
- The hourly wage or commission and benefits
- Hours of work
- A basic description of the work
- Estimated length of the assignment
- 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.