Temporary Help Agency Employees

If you work in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards that an employer must comply with. If the employer fails to do so, you can file a claim on line and without cost with the Ministry of Labour. If you are still working for the company, you may be able to request that your name should not be disclosed. However, some standards are so unique, they cannot be investigated without disclosing your name. The officer investigating your complaint would advise you if your complaint could be investigated in such a fashion. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights.
There are times when you or the employer may not agree with the officer’s decision, in that case, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days. It does not cost you but the employer may be required give the money to the Ministry if it is found to be owing. The Ministry then distributes the money in accordance with the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
In the past, the Ministry defended the officer’s decision at the Board’s hearing; however, it is rarely done. The Ministry used to go to extra length to safeguard the interests of an employee even in some cases against its own officer. Such happenings are very rare. At the present time, the Ministry takes no stand and lets the employer and the employee deal with the issues themselves before the Board.
The question arises, should the employee engage the services of an expert in these matters? It is my view that in most cases it is not necessary at the initial investigation by the officer. However, if the issues are serious and complex, the employee may wish to engage such services at the appeal process.
In many situations, a company may require additional help in coping with the demands of work for a short period of time. Under such circumstances, it may not wish to hire someone directly but instead ask another company to provide temporary help. The company providing such help is temporary help agency, which is different from “placement” agency. A placement agency simply introduces the candidate to the company and the company may hire the candidate directly and pays a set fee for such a referral. On the other hand, the temporary help agency receives the wages of an employee it sends to the company and in turns pays directly to the employee.
The company that pays your wages directly to you is your employer. If you receive your wages from the temporary help agency, the temporary help agency is your employer and not the company you worked for. In such situations, it is the temporary help agency that is required to comply with the Act. Under the Act, you may be entitled to the following:
            .           Hours of Work
            .           Overtime Pay
            .           Vacation
            .           Public Holidays
            .           Termination of Employment
            .           Severance Pay
            .           Leaves of Absence: Personal Emergency, Pregnancy, Parental, Family Medical and    Reservist leaves
Before you are entitled to vacation, pregnancy, parental, reservist leaves, notice of termination and severance pay, you may be required to work for a minimum period.
If you work under an arrangement where you can choose or refuse to work when asked by the temporary help agency and the agency continues to consider you for future assignments, that is, you are not penalised for refusing an assignment, you are then considered to be an elect to work employee and may not be entitled to termination or severance pay or public holiday. 
Elect to work employee may be employees of other companies as well. As an example, a dentist office may hire such employees directly.  
This information is only provided to guide you about your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and should not be considered as a legal advice.

This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at esaconsulting@hotmail.com

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.

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