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Definition of “work” missing in Working for Workers bill

Ghost Kitchens will do for restaurants what Uber did for Taxis. Photo: FB

Ontario’s Labour Minister Monte McNaughton works at Working for Workers without a definition of “work.”

Updated 8am March 2nd, 2022 with Labour Ministry information.

Ontario’s Labour Minister Monte McNaughton introduced legislation on February 28th which contains words including “minimum wage” and “fundamental rights.”

Working for Workers Act, 2022 (Working for Workers Act 2), apparently would, if passed, continue to lead the country in building an economy that works for everyone.

Road Warrior News was not able to ascertain whether the “work” referred to in the Working for Workers Act, 2022 (Working for Workers Act 2) refers solely to time spent engaged with consumers while excluding time spent between gigs, or whether it includes travel time or time spent on an application, but without a customer. RWN requested clarification of the term “time worked” from the Ministry of Labour and will provide an update when one becomes available.

March 2nd update: The Ministry of Labour’s medialine staff provided this definition on background, in an email: “The legislation ensures workers will be paid from start to finish for an order. This includes time spent on the way to an order, waiting at the restaurant, and on the way to deliver. (The same would apply for rides).”

Gig workers organizers were still celebrating a court victory on the Employment Standards Act February 28th when Minister McNaughton made his announcement on March 1st.

“As part of our plan to build a stronger economy that works for everyone, we want all workers to have every opportunity to earn a good living and provide for their families,” said Premier Doug Ford. “It doesn’t matter if you work for a big company, a small business or for a rideshare app. Our government won’t leave any worker behind.”

“No one working in Ontario should ever make less than minimum wage for an hour’s work,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development noted in the media release distributed February 28th. “No one working in Ontario should be dismissed without notice, explanation, or recourse. No one should have to travel out of the country to resolve a workplace dispute or sign a contract they do not understand. These core rights are a foundation in our mission to help all workers earn bigger paychecks to take care of their families, not an endpoint.”

According to the release, the government’s proposals would enshrine the following rights and protections for digital platform workers:

  • Earning at least the general minimum wage for time worked;
  • The right to keep their tips along with regular pay periods;
  • The right to information and clarity around algorithms including:
    • how pay is calculated; and
    • how and why a worker might be penalized in the allocation of work;
  • Written notice if they are being removed from the platform and why;
  • The right to resolve their work-related disputes in Ontario; and
  • Protection from reprisal should they seek to assert their rights.

As detailed in the legislation introduced February 28, “Right to minimum wage,”

“9 (1)  An operator shall pay workers at least the minimum wage payable under section 23.1 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 for the class of employees set out in subparagraph 1 iv of subsection 23.1 (1) of that Act.

Same, determination

(2)  For the purposes of determining compliance with subsection (1), the following rules apply:

   1.  Minimum wage shall be paid for each work assignment performed by a worker.

   2.  Tips and other gratuities paid in respect of a work assignment shall not be included in determining compliance with subsection (1) for that assignment.

   3.  Such other rules as may be prescribed apply in determining compliance with subsection (1).”

Neither the words “work” or “work assignment” are defined in the Bill. Ontario’s Employment Standards Act 2000 does not list a definition of the word “work.”