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Temporary work, also known as ‘gig’ work, has been steadily increasing across Canada. Statistics Canada found that the number of temporary workers in Canada increased by 50 per cent between 1999 and 2019. Further, there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of temporary work agencies in Ontario alone.

With the rise of these types of employment relationship, it is important for employers and employees to understand the rights and entitlements of temporary help agency workers. This article supplies detailed information relating to temporary help agencies, how they work and what your entitlements are if you work for one. 

WHAT IS A TEMPORARY HELP AGENCY? 

A temporary help agency is a company that employs individuals and then assigns the individual to perform work for the agency’s clients. These assignments can be for varying periods of time, ranging from days to months depending on the client’s needs. Temporary help agencies, like employers, have the obligation to ensure all wages are paid properly to their workers.

WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?

As opposed to the traditional employer and employee relationship, temporary help agencies introduce a third party to the employment relationship.

Individuals who work for a temporary help agency are employees of the agency, not the client that they perform the temporary work for. 

The following diagram illustrates the difference between the two scenarios.

WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS DURING A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT?

After starting an employment relationship with a temporary help agency, you will be offered a work assignment with one of the agency’s clients. You are entitled to receive the following information about the assignment from the agency: 

  • legal and business name of the work assignment client;
  • contact information for the work assignment client; 
  • hourly or other wage rate or commission and benefits associated with the assignment;
  • hours of work;
  • general description of the work;
  • estimated term of the assignment (if known when the offer is made); and
  • the pay period and pay day.

Further, if the client that you are temporarily assigned to decides to offer full-time employment, the temporary help agency cannot charge you a fee or prevent you from accepting alternate employment. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM DISMISSED FROM THE WORK ASSIGNMENT?

If your assignment is terminated prior to the estimated completion date, the agency in which you are employed under must provide you one (1) week’s notice of termination of the assignment (either written or pay in lieu). 

However, there are three exceptions to being entitled notice while working for a temporary help agency: 

  1. If the assignment had an estimated term of under three (3) months; 
  2. If the temporary help agency offers you new work within the one (1) week notice period; or
  3. The reason for termination of assignment was due to wilful misconduct, disobedience, or wilful neglect of duty.

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYMENT WITH THE TEMPORARY HELP AGENCY IS TERMINATED?

Temporary help agency employees are entitled to notice of termination under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000. Thus, if your employment is terminated you are entitled to the following amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice depending on the length of your employment. 

Termination pay is calculated based on the wages earned in the last 12 weeks prior to termination of employment divided by 12 to reach an average weekly wage rate. 

Period of employment Notice required
Less than 1 year 1 week
1 year but less than 3 years 2 weeks
3 years but less than 4 years 3 weeks
4 years but less than 5 years 4 weeks
5 years but less than 6 years 5 weeks
6 years but less than 7 years 6 weeks
7 years but less than 8 years 7 weeks
8 years or more 8 weeks

CONTACT THE EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS AT SULTAN LAWYERS 

Working for a temporary help agency can be confusing for employees, as the terms of the employment relationship may seem vague especially when it comes to understanding your rights. If you have questions navigating temporary help agencies or believe that an agency is not fulfilling their obligations from an employment law perspective, please contact your Toronto employment lawyers at Sultan Lawyers for a flat-rate consultation. We can be reached at 416-214-5111, or via email at khayward@sultanlawyers.com.


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