On Tuesday, March 4, 2013, New Democrat MPP Jonah Schein introduced Bill 170, the Greater Protection for Interns and Vulnerable Workers Act, which, if passed, would create various amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) affecting employers who engage interns.
The term “intern” is not presently defined by the ESA, but rather these workers are excluded as an exemption to the definition of “employee” when certain conditions are met. Briefly, workers are presently exempt from the protection of the ESA where they are receiving training in connection with a vocational school. The training must be for the benefit of the worker, while the person doing the training derives little, if any, benefit from the worker’s activity. The worker must also be advised that he or she will not be paid for the time spent in training.
If passed, Bill 170 would deem an intern as an “employee” for the purpose of certain sections of the ESA, such as hours of work, eating periods and record keeping. Employers of interns would also be required to specifically notify interns, in writing, of the parts of the ESA which apply to the intern’s employment, the preconditions which have been met which render the worker an intern, the terms of employment (including length of employment and a general description of the work to be performed), and the intern’s hours of work. Other noteworthy changes being proposed include:
These possible amendments may be significant for employers who engage interns and other workers in similar unpaid positions. It is not known whether this private members bill will ultimately be passed, but employers should be cognizant of the status of the Bill, particularly if they engage interns.
If you have any questions about these proposed amendments, or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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