Standing up for students’ potential workplace rights


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The provincial government and media work together to ensure that the public is able to engage and join in the greater dialogue before and during the enacting of legislation.

The release of The Changing Workplaces Review has laid out some of the potentially greatest reforms to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

Ontario Federation of Labour president Chris Buckley stated that this is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” Why is it, then, that the discussion seems to have flat-lined in the conventional media circles?

Recommendations from the report were released at the end of February, prior to the upcoming finalized report.

Although there was media attention, it was only prevalent for a very limited period of time.

The final report has yet to be finalized and it is unrealistic to assume all of these recommendations will translate into government legislation.

This raises a dilemma, however: how are we, as students, able to ensure that the policy relevant to our daily lives has the highest chance of making it into law?

We need to be able to participate in the larger dialogue surrounding these recommendations.

However, the open dialogue surrounding these policy recommendations has been throttled.

To ensure that students are represented in the final product, we must continue the dialogue ourselves in the hopes that it will grace the ears of our policy makers.

There are three recommendations that came out of this report that I think would benefit students that young people may not know about.

Firstly, that employers must post their employee’s work schedules in advance.

I’ve been there. I used to get my schedule on Thursday if I was lucky, but often as late as Sunday for shifts starting on the following day whilst working in the customer service industry.

It was difficult to plan a social life and time for school work and that was for me in high school.

I can’t imagine how difficult it can be for some university students to balance their studies and work when put in a stressful and precarious state.

The second recommendation was to eliminate the lower wage for servers.

The change that this will have to the hospitality industry (and for the many students working in this industry) will be significant.

It will ensure that everyone is being paid at least the minimum wage during their shifts, thus increasing their base wage and making it less situation based on their ability to garner gratuities.

This is especially important when 20 per cent of servers report they do not make the minimum wage, even with tips.

The last recommendation was to pay the same wage for the same work, regardless of whether the individual works part-time or full-time.

This is the most important recommendation in this report for graduating students.

We live in an evolving workplace landscape, where a growing number of university graduates are often forced to accept part-time positions with lower wages, lack of benefits and opportunities for advancement.

This legislation ensures that a group as particularly vulnerable as students are provided a fair wage at the onset of their career and beyond.

I truly think that all of these recommendations, among many others laid out in this report, would ensure that students are protected and given an equal opportunity in the modern workplace.

We just need to chime into the discussion and have our voices heard.

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