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Ontario personal emergency leave rules punish auto workers

December 22, 2017

 Toronto – The Ontario government’s decision to enact regulations which provide a lesser standard of personal emergency leave in the province’s updated Employment Standards Act (ESA) unfairly punishes auto workers says Unifor.

“The Employment Standards Act should apply fairly to all workers, yet the government has deliberately chosen to create a double standard with one group of workers singled out to receive less protection than the majority,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Dias met today with Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to express the union’s concerns on behalf of the more than 150,000 workers impacted by this legislation. Unifor demanded that the government move to reverse this unfair and unwarranted regulatory change.

The Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, passed last month, allows workers 10 days of personal emergency leave with two paid days for illness, injury, bereavement or other emergencies.  Under a newly added exemption in regulation 502/06, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018, auto workers would be entitled to only seven days for personal or family illness or emergencies, and three days for bereavement, none of them paid.

“This exemption is the result of pressure from profitable corporations that simply don’t want to provide their workers with two paid sick days,” said Dias. “They are punishing workers across the sector in the name of greed, with those who work at lower-paying auto part plants and non-unionized auto manufacturers, such as Honda and Toyota, being hardest hit.”

The exemption will impact union and non-union workers, with non-union employees being particularly vulnerable as they do not have access to collective bargaining, which provides an opportunity for workers to address issues like personal emergency leave.

Unifor has launched a petition calling on the Ontario government to eliminate the personal emergency leave exemption for auto workers.  To view the petition click here.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).