Farmers may want to review newest legislation before determining their workers’ wages
By Kaitlynn Anderson
As spring finally arrives, producers may be preparing to hire seasonal employees.
However, these farmers may have to make some adjustments to their payrolls to make sure they are up to date with Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.
Under the new act, employers must pay part-time and seasonal employees the same wage rate as full-time workers who perform substantially the same – but not necessarily identical – work.
“So, it’s work that requires substantially the same skills, effort and responsibility,” Peter Sykanda, a farm policy analyst with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com on Monday.
Employees must also perform the jobs under similar working conditions at the same establishment, he said.
The legislation will prevent businesses from hiring familiar individuals, such as their neighbours or relatives, and paying them different wages than other employees who complete the same work, he said.
Under the act, employers cannot punish or reprimand workers for inquiring about their wages, either.
However, this legislation does have some exceptions.
For example, employers may not have to pay equal wages to workers if the workplace has a merit- or seniority-based system in place, Sykanda said.
Businesses may also be able to pay workers different wages if they use “systems that measure earnings by the quantity or quality of production,” he said.
Overall, employers should be able to adapt to these changes relatively easily, he said.
“For a long time, equal pay for equal work has been applied to gender. So, it’s simply an extension of that to someone doing substantially the same work.”
To prepare for any changes, employers with complicated staffing situations should speak to a lawyer specializing in labour law to ensure compliance, Sykanda said.
Individuals can also read through Your guide to the Employment Standards Act. The Ministry of Labour created this document to provide employers and employees with details on standards such as minimum wage, severance pay, public holidays and hours of work.
David Jones/Getty Images photo