On February 28, 2022, the Government of Ontario announced the Working for Worker’s Act 2022 (“Working for Worker’s Act 2”), which if passed, will provide gig workers who provide ride-share, delivery, or courier services in Ontario’s digital economy sector with access to minimum wage, and other fundamental rights commonly provided to employees, including written notice of dismissal.
The proposed legislation comes on the heels of calls for greater transparency and workers’ rights for digital platform workers in Ontario’s gig economy: Uber, Lyft, Skip the Dishes, Door Dash, etc. The first reading motion of Bill 88, Working for Workers Act, 2022 carried on February 28, 2022. The text and the status of the Bill are available on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website. The Bill enacts, amends and repeals certain statutes. Of particular interest for this commentary is the newly proposed Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022, which is Schedule 1 to Bill 88.
The Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022 applies to workers providing services through Digital Platforms, some of the key definitions are as follows:
- Digital Platform: means, subject to the regulations, an online platform that allows workers to choose to accept or decline digital platform work;
- Digital Platform work: means, subject to the regulations, the provision of for payment ride-share, delivery, courier, or other prescribed services by workers who are offered work assignments by an operator through the use of a digital platform;
- worker: means, subject to the regulations, an individual who performs digital platform work and includes a person who was a worker;
- worker right means a requirement or prohibition under the Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022 that applies to an operator for the benefit of a worker.
If passed, the proposed legislation will ensure that workers performing digital platform work are entitled to the following minimum protections:
- Earn at least the general minimum wage ($15.00 per hour) for time worked;
- The right to keep their tips;
- The right to a recurring pay period along with detailed pay statements;
- Two weeks written notice if they are being removed from the digital platform;
- The right to resolve their work-related disputes in Ontario; and
- Protection from reprisal should they seek to assert their rights.
Importantly, these rights apply to workers performing digital platform work, regardless of whether those workers are employees or independent contractors. It is explicitly provided in section 2 of the proposed Digital Platform Workers Rights Act, 2022 that ” [t]he purpose of this Act is to establish certain worker rights for workers, regardless of whether those workers are employees”. The proposed legislation also includes a complaints mechanism – businesses found to be in violation of the workers’ rights outlined above, may be subject to significant financial penalties.
During the February 28, 2022 announcement, the Province outlined that the data shows that one in five Canadians currently work in the digital gig economy. The proposed legislation is the first of its kind in Canada, and if passed, it will have a profound effect on the digital gig economy by ensuring that workers receive basic protections and a guaranteed wage in exchange for their services.
In support of the Bill Premier Doug Ford stated, “as part of our plan to build a stronger economy that works for everyone, we want all workers to have every opportunity to earn a good living and provide for their families,” and that “it doesn’t matter if you work for a big company, a small business or for a rideshare app. Our government won’t leave any worker behind.” (Ontario Establishing General Minimum Wage for Digital Platform Workers, Feb 28, 2022)
You can review the full Ontario Newsroom press release at Ontario Establishing General Minimum Wage for Digital Platform Workers and the backgrounder on Bill 99 at the Working for Workers Act, 2022.
The proposed Working for Worker’s Act 2 provides additional rights to digital platform workers. These rights would benefit workers performing digital platform work and are in addition to the minimum standards prescribed in the Employment Standards Act. The proposed legislation is part of a larger suite of worker’s rights which includes changes to electronic monitoring, mobility, and provincial registration.
This was written by Alexandra Monkhouse, Employment Lawyer at Monkhouse Law. Monkhouse Law is an employment law firm in Toronto with a focus on workers’ issues.
If you are a worker in the gig economy sector and have questions about your rights or entitlements, please contact Monkhouse Law Employment Lawyers. Give us a call at 416-907-9249 or fill out this quick form. We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.