OPSEU: amend law to cover information knowledge workers

Ontario's Employment Standards Act discriminates against huge group of modern-day workers


Toronto (29 Sep. 2008) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is reaching out to information technology workers (IKWs) discriminated against by the Employment Standards Act 2000 (ESA), which sets "minimum baseline" standards for fair treatment of other workers in the province.

"Non-unionized workers in this growing sector are excluded from certain key provisions of the ESA," says OPSEU. "Issues affecting IKWs should be given a greater spotlight within the union, in collective bargaining and in organizing new workers and bargaining units."

OPSEU represents thousands of IKW workers who develop and maintain computer software systems, work on databases and networks, query data warehouses and analyze information. IKW employers are exempted from following several key sections of the ESA.

First, the ESA casts a wide brush by defining "information technology professionals" as any workers "engaged in the investigation, analysis, design, development, implementation, operation or management of information systems based on computer and related technologies through the objective application of specialized knowledge and professional judgment."

Then, it exempts IKW employers from observing any of the following minimum standards:

  • Hours of work and eating periods: Unlike other employees, IKWs can be required to work more than eight hours a day or 48 hours a week.
  • Hours free from work: IWK employers are required to give workers "at least 11 consecutive hours" free from work each day.
  • Breaks and meal periods: IWK employers are not required to provide an eating period of "at least 30 minutes" or to ensure that employees do not work longer than five hours without a break.
  • Overtime pay: Employers are not required to pay IWKs overtime (time and a half) after 44 hours of work each week or honour any other overtime formula "prescribed" by the ESA. NUPGE

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