Embracing the Better – Elevating Employment Rights to be a Leader
September marks one year since 23 year-old Amina Diaby was killed in a workplace accident at Fiera Foods. It was an accident that could have been easily prevented.
This is one of those stories that hits close to home. I run a staffing agency and it’s my responsibility to make sure each person we hire has all the training and knowledge they need to go through his or her day safely. Why should it matter if one person is filling a temporary position and the other is filling a permanent role? Each deserves to go home to a family, uninjured.
When I see this case, my blood pressure rises. It would have taken such little effort to prevent her death. In fact, the rules had already been in place to prevent loose clothing from being worn around moving machinery. It is tragic that so little effort could have prevented a death.
(1) Long hair shall be suitably confined to prevent entanglement with any rotating shaft, spindle, gear, belt or other source of entanglement.
(2) Jewellery or clothing that is loose or dangling or rings shall not be worn near any rotating shaft, spindle, gear, belt or other source of entanglement. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 851, s. 83.
It was only a few years ago, in 2009, that Bill 139 swept in and changed the staffing business dramatically. Companies were using temps far more than ever, and new rules were necessary after less reputable employers were taking advantage of vulnerable people. Evidently, it was not enough.
In a short while, Bill 148 will make more changes to employment rights. And for the better. In the time I have been in in the staffing industry, I have seen enough to realize that the more rights we afford to employees, the better off we all are.
As is typical with any kind of change, there is always resistance. Rumblings of costs and necessity. My question is why would we want to prevent an improvement for people’s working lives? Not only that, we know providing an empowered workplace increases productivity. By embracing the inevitable changes, we can not only improve our businesses, but we can also be leaders in making a better, more productive workplace.
Resistance is Futile
Change is coming
There are a couple notable changes in the new bill that I think are worth mentioning.
The first is the minimum wage increase. Now, they are plenty of arguments whether or not this is a good thing, but that’s not where I am going. The point is, the minimum wage is going up, regardless of our positions.
There is a big jump scheduled for January 2018, and another bump the following year. After that, it will be “subject to an annual inflation adjustment on October 1 of every year starting in 2019.”
The other thing I want to highlight is the Temporary employees will be treated and paid the same as regular employees. The latter part depends on the job being substantially the same as the regular employee’s job. And the onus is on the employer to prove that the person is not actually an employee. (Sections 5.1, 5.2, 42.1)
I can’t tell you what this means for your business, but I can suggest that now is a good time to look into it. Will your employees demand a higher wage to maintain the ratio beyond minimum wage? It’s an interesting issue to which you may have to answer. Do you employ many people whose wages are about to jump? How are you going to manage that cost increase?
Sooner or later, whether it be in January, or a little down the road, we are going to see the shift in the landscape. Here’s why…
History and trend of employees’ rights
There’s been an unmistakable upward trajectory of employee rights for a century and a bit. I find it fascinating to see how far we’ve come, if in increments. But what is more interesting, is how we will look back at the changes we are making now. Will we think, “good grief, I can’t believe we had to legislate that!”, when we look at past selves in the not-too-distant future?
Notable changes in Canadian history
- 1884 – Factory Act
- A completely unenforceable and vague law “suggesting” prohibited jobs for women and children, and hour restrictions for all employees
- 1956 – Female Employees Equal Pay Act
- Wage discrimination based on sex is against the law
- 1964 – the Industrial Safety Act
- New laws to protect worker and make the enforceable
- 1971 – Paid Maternity Leave
- 15 weeks of paid leave at 66% of the mother’s wage
- 1986 – Employment Equities Act
- “federally regulated employees and requires employers to identify and eliminate unnecessary barriers that limit employment opportunities”
Embrace the change
How do we go about dealing with the big changes? When there are big shifts in the workplace and the laws surrounding them, navigating, or even accepting, changes can be difficult. Yes, you could wait until the new law is enacted to make the changes, but now you’re working under the stress of being compliant. How efficient are you when you’re cobbling together a policy doc or figuring out how you’re going to manage increased wages at the last minute?
So embrace the changes! Accept that they are going to happen, regardless of the time it’s going to take to implement them. It’s just a matter of adjusting the way you think. Much like anything else, right?
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Once you have accepted that these changes are coming, you can go about understanding them. There are always plenty of resources dedicated to helping you understand what is coming. It may take an effort to avoid the rabbit hole of negativity, but that is a conscious decision you will have to make. Remember, you’ve accepted that the change is coming, don’t let the naysayers prevent you from being a leader.
When you’re ahead like this, you get to set the narrative. This is leadership that gives you a competitive edge. Announcing you are stepping up the workplace equality sets you apart from the rest and there is the added benefit of increasing your workplace productivity by inspiring your workforce.
Set the Bar Higher
You’re on a roll now. Why stop there!?
If you’re already ahead of the curve, take the opportunity to raise the bar set by the government. This is another chance to be a trendsetter. See, it’s the trendsetters who get the best talent and people. By offering a better workplace than the next company, you will get the pick of the talent pool. You will draw out that 70% who is actively disengaged from their work.
The government mandated minimum is just that, the minimum. I don’t know many people who have been successful by doing the minimum for anything. I will wager my morning smoothy that you didn’t get to your position by doing the minimum amount to work. I believe this situation is no different and that you will benefit your company by setting your standards higher.
This is exactly how I have managed to recruit top talent to build the Bergsma & Laurette brand. I am fortunate to say that the people I have on my team are some of the best around. They are passionate and dedicated, and I am proud they are willing to work with me. I don’t believe for a second I could have built this company to where it is today without them.
Investing in your people pays dividends.
As an Entrepreneur leadership skill is the top most priority. Its absolutely vital one must develop the ability to lead if not their business shall bleed. In this video Simon Sinek explains how.Speaker: Simon Sinek [ Occupation –>Author, Motivational speaker, Entrepreneur ]Credit: TED
Posted by Entrepreneur Mindset on lunes, 11 de septiembre de 2017
The Challenge of Being Better
Resistance truly is futile, but when it makes the lives our employees safer, why resist? Our employees are part of a family – someone’s spouse, child, parent – and they are part of our family.
With every iteration of the law, we have an opportunity to elevate ourselves beyond the minimum requirements. Is it not exciting to have a challenge that requires us to improve ourselves and our businesses?
We have come a long way since the industrial revolution in protecting people. We look back at the inhumane conditions and shake our heads; how could we be so callous? I for one would like to be able to look at my past self and say I did my absolute best to ensure the safety and equality for my people.
Tell me, how are you going above and beyond to ensure your employees have equality and a safe work environment? What are some areas you would like to improve?