The diversity of Ontario's economy means that some sectors need more flexibility in scheduling than others. Manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology are examples of sectors that need to be nimble. Many employees appreciate or need the ability to work with their employer to adjust schedules on short notice, and a universal approach to scheduling regulation may inadvertently limit this ability. Though we share the Government’s commitment to address precarious work, it’s important that government, employees, and the employer community distinguish between the problems of precariousness and opportunities to provide employees with desired freedom. Increasingly, Ontario workers are coming to value the ability to be their own boss, choose their own schedule, achieve a better work-life balance, and seek out new wage-earning opportunities. Young workers, in particular, place significant value on the ability to quickly adjust work schedules so as to accommodate academic and extracurricular demands. We should not be seeking to limit this flexibility.
Recommendation 1: We need to evaluate how policy can alter employee scheduling, and the impacts it could have on youth employment.
Recommendation 2: Recognize different sectors’ abilities to foresee future capacity requirements. Do not amend the Employment Standards Act to include a universal provision around employers’ scheduling obligations.
Recommendation 3: Provide employers with the flexibility they require to respond to shifting demand for goods and services by maintaining the Employment Standards Act’s provision for the number of hours workers can work in a day or week (8 hours per day or 48 hours a week) and when overtime must be paid (after 44 hours in a week).