Canadian HR Reporter

April 6, 2015

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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Canadian HR RepoRteR april 6, 2015 2 News Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. web O n t h e Across cANAdA Alberta warns workers in slumping oilpatch of bogus job offers Companies offering energy industry jobs for upfront fee Bureaucrats to use honour system when it comes to archiving instant messages Free rein to wipe non-work- related instant messages Alberta plans to repeal legislation that increased fines for illegal strikes premier hopes to 'reset table' with unions Ontario raising minimum wage to $11.25 Wage increases will be tied into Consumer price index Wounded vets, families to see improved access to allowances Could benefit from proposed new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit B.C. unions continue push for $15 minimum wage Labour groups call recently announced increase 'paltry' ArouNd the world U.K. to raise minimum wage by 3 per cent, biggest rise since 2008 almost one-third of workplaces use it as guide for setting wages As Australia sheds mining jobs, professional services enjoy hiring frenzy Mining companies shed 44,000 workers in the year to February U.S. jobless claims rise modestly; continuing claims fall Labour market remains on solid footing despite slowing growth Robots in the workplace Robert Codd-downey, a research assistant at York University, says the use of robots will continue to rise in workplaces Featured Video 'More work, lower compensation costs' JoB QuAlItY < pg. 1 Need a quick break? Want to contribute to cutting-edge HR policy research? Check out this study not part of this measure," said Tal. Structural changes e job quality index is reflecting structural changes — and those changes include the decline of the full-time job, said Jim Stanford, an economist at the union Unifor in Toronto. "We've known for years that the nature of work was changing because employers were finding it possible to find labour without of- fering any of the normal benefits or security that traditionally come with having a job, in terms of se- curity, permanence, regular hours benefits, pension," he said. "So we have seen in the last gen- eration a bit of a transformation in the quality of work. And employ- ers are, I think, taking advantage of the weak labour market in or- der to extract more work for lower compensation costs — and also to shift to risks of fluctuations in la- bour demands onto to workers." ere's also been a greater shift towards self-employment, said Angella MacEwen, senior econo- mist at the Canadian Labour Con- gress in Ottawa. "ere's been recently a bigger increase in self-employment as well and it's been the more pre- carious kind of self-employment — so unincorporated, no paid help. So that's disconcerting as well," she said. e CIBC index backs up the labour market trends that have been seen with quantitative data, said Stanford. "And the interesting thing their data shows is the deterioration in the quality and stability of work — and now it's at the worst levels ever. And we're six years into an eco- nomic recovery, and yet job quality continues to deteriorate. And that tells me there's something funda- mentally askew in the balance of power in our labour market." Involuntary part-time An important distinction to make is the fact that some workers ac- tively seek out part-time jobs, said David Gray, an economics profes- sor at the University of Ottawa. "There are actually certain workers who prefer, at least at the present time, a part-time job, so not every part-time job is bad, by any means," he said. "What we have to worry about is the invol- untary part-time employment rate — those people who do aspire to full-time work but can only find part-time work." There are about one million Canadians who are working part- time jobs but want full-time work, said MacEwen. "And that's been elevated throughout the recession — that hasn't gone down to what it was before the recession." We'll likely continue to see more part-time, temporary and contract-type work as the labour market continues to change, said Gray. "e labour market has been transformed quite a bit by what we call skill-biased technological change," he said. "Perhaps in the future there will be further trans- formation coming from organiza- tions like Uber — so what they're doing to the taxi market could be used for other professions and other occupations. You could rent a taxi or rent a handyman or rent a housekeeping service on a very, very temporary basis. "A smaller and smaller propor- tion of the total work that's being done in the labour market will be within the framework of full-time, really secure jobs." Power imbalance For some, alternative arrange- ments to traditional full-time, permanent employment might be highly desirable. But, for others, precarious work arrangements can create a deep power imbal- ance, said Stanford. "In that situation, employers have a pool of willing and often desperate workers to choose from, so they can get away with offering these sub-par conditions. But then that becomes kind of a self-reinforcing situation — the more employers are able to do that, then the fewer permanent, secure jobs are around, which means the workers are all the more desperate," he said. "So, in a way, it puts us onto a path of precarious work that is hard to break out of, unless something shocks the confidence of employers that they can hire workers without offering any sort of security." It's definitely an employer's market, said MacEwen — and workers often don't have much control. "We're transitioning more and more to a just-in-time kind of workforce where people maybe only have four hours of work this week, and maybe 10 next week," she said. "People are really wor- ried about losing their jobs, so they'll accept worse conditions than they would in a healthier job market." And the power imbalance isn't the only factor at play — there's also a direct impact on the income gap, said Tal. "Given that you have more peo- ple being employed in relatively low-quality jobs, the bargaining power is not as high as with high- paying jobs so what we see is that the income gap is widening." Policy changes? Since these changes to the labour force are structural — not cyclical — the drop in job quality probably cannot be reversed by changes to monetary policy, said Tal. "Namely, you cannot just cut interest rates and everything would be fine. I think it's much more than that. I think that there is a mismatch in the markets where we have people without jobs and jobs without people. We have a skill set in the economy that is inconsistent with what the job market needs," he said. "Many young people are highly educated but they're educated in fields that are not exactly what the market needs and, therefore, we have lots of educated people without the ability to find em- ployment. So we cannot translate those degrees into high-paying jobs — and I think that's part of the quality aspect." Immigration policy has also been a factor in this disconnect, he said. "We have seen a significant mismatch in immigration, with the stories of PhDs driving taxis. That's part of the story where there is a disconnect between the quality or what the immigrants bring to the table and how they are being utilized. So (there are) many aspects of this problem." And as long as employers find this business model of relying on just-in-time, precarious labour works for them, they have no in- centive to change it, said Stanford. "It would take either a significant tightening of the labour market, so employers increasingly found they couldn't find someone to work on short notice for lousy pay with no security, and/or and improve- ment in labour regulations which compelled employers to provide a higher standard of security and predictability in their jobs." "employers have a pool of willing and often desparate workers to choose from, so they can get away with offering these sub-par conditions."

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