Employment & Labour

Part-time workers afforded same rights as full-time counterparts

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

There is no legal requirement to hire a person full time — but if an employer has placed someone on a part-time schedule as an ‘independent contractor’ but treats them as an employee, the worker may be missing out on significant entitlements, Toronto employment lawyer Natalie MacDonald tells The Globe and Mail.

MacDonald, principal of MacDonald & Associates and author of Extraordinary Damages in Canadian Employment Law, weighs in on the issue in an advice column in the newspaper’s Careers section, where a reader who was hired as a part-time worker asked whether they should be designated as a full-time employee and given benefits, because they have never put in fewer than 40 hours a week.

As MacDonald explains, an employer has no legal requirement hire a person as a full-time employee. Provincial employment standards legislation allows employees to work up to a maximum of 44 hours a week, regardless of whether the employee is full-time, part-time, a student or casual employee, she adds.

“If, however, you find yourself working more than 44 hours a week, you are entitled to receive overtime pay in the amount of one and a half times your regular rate of pay for each hour of work over 44 hours a week, regardless of your part-time status,” says MacDonald.

Also, she says, provincial employment-standards legislation provides most employees with the basic minimum rights and treats full-time and part-time employees equally.

“All employees are entitled to receive a regular pay period, wages, regular half-hour breaks after five hours of continuous work, vacation time and pay and all other benefits conferred upon them by statute,” she says.

However, if the situation is one where an employee has been placed on a part-time contract as an independent contractor of some sort but is treated as though they are an employee, the worker may be being denied significant entitlements, she says.

“In that case, you need to address this with your employer to rectify your situation, or alternatively consult with your Ministry of Labour or seek employment legal counsel,” says MacDonald.

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