THUNDER BAY — Business owners hope a review of a controversial change to public holiday pay rules will result in a system that's more fair and easier to understand and implement.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson says the provincial government's revisions to the Employment Standards Act included new rules for stat holiday pay that "do not provide fair compensation to all employees and add significant salary costs for employers."
The changes were part of Bill 148, the same legislation that provided for dramatic increases in Ontario's minimum wage.
Under the new rules, Robinson said, a part-time worker who worked (for example) one 7-hour shift in the two-week pay period prior to Victoria Day, but got the holiday off, would get paid a full seven hours for the stat, the same as an employee who worked full-time during the same two-week pay period.
It was a significant change from the previous formula, under which part-time employees were paid a percentage of the hours they worked in the preceding pay period. "If you only work seven hours out of a two-week pay period of 70 hours, you're getting basically 10 per cent for the stat, versus getting paid for the full day," Robinson said.
She said not only was the new system more costly for employers, but it was also fundamentally unfair to full-time staff.
Across Ontario, the change has reportedly caused some employers to put off hiring part-time workers because of the additional pay requirements.
On Monday, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn announced the suspension of the new rules and an interim reinstatement of the old system, "following feedback and discussions with stakeholders."
The minister said the change in the public holiday rules has been the source of the most complaints about the Employment Standards Act "and needed to be simplified."
Robinson said "they're saying, okay, 'that didn't work,' so let's take a look at what we really should do. It was rather convoluted, so they also need to find a way to explain what they are trying to do so employers can understand the calculation. But in a way that is fair to all employees."