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OPINION Government changes to Employment Standards Act 'unbelievable and unexplainable'

The new system is now different, makes no sense, and is neither fair to the employer or the full-time employee
20180110 paycheque salary employee pay AdobeStock_90328029

By Mark Sherry, North Bay


I am a business owner and I am deeply worried by all the changes the Ontario government has recently made to the “Employment Standards Act”. 

The changes were rushed and not given a great deal of thought.

For example, this week I sat down to try to understand the changes related to paying an employee for a public holiday (commonly called a statutory holiday).  Under the old system for hourly workers, the employer added up the employees’ gross pay over the past four weeks and divided by twenty to get the average, which makes sense.  The new system is now different, makes no sense, and is neither fair to the employer or the full-time employee.  The way we now calculate stat pay is (total hours worked in last pay period x hourly wage)/number of days worked. Let me illustrate this by two examples:

Scenario #1

Full-Time Employee working 40 hours per week, 8 hours per day, earning $15/hr, has worked for the last two weeks and gets paid bi-weekly.  The calculation of the statutory pay is as follows:

(80 X $15)/10 = $120 – this is the amount that the worker would receive for the statutory pay.  This equals one day of pay which is fair to the employer and the employee.

Scenario #2

Part Time Employee working one shift of eight hours in length in the last two weeks earning $15 per hour and is paid biweekly.  The calculation of the statutory pay is as follows”

(8 x $15)/1 = $120 – This is the amount that the part-time employee would earn for the statutory holiday.  This means that the part-time employee who only worked one shift in two weeks is compensated the same for the holiday as the full-time employee.  Theoretically, if that same employee had 10-part-time jobs and worked one eight-hour shift at each over the same two week pay period then they would receive $120 x 10 = $1,200 or the equivalent of two weeks pay for the stat holiday for the exact same hours worked as the full-time employee.  There are nine stat days a year so if the same employee did this for an entire year they would receive 18 weeks of pay for nine stat days, while the full-time employee would receive 9 paid days which is the correct amount.

Under the old system, this part-time employee would have been paid 2 x 8 x $15/20 = $12 which is a fair amount given that most will still work their one shift during the week at some point.  This stat pay is “extra” money for them. 

Now if a business employs many students that work one or two shifts a week this can substantially increase the amount of wages paid on stat days.

This is unbelievable and unexplainable. 

It is unfair to the business and the full-time employees.  Of course, this makes part-time employees more expensive than full-time employees if all else is equal, which will mean there will be less part time jobs, less jobs for your children looking to gain some experience in the workplace.  To make matters worse the legislation is so vague that I cannot even figure out what to pay some employees for the stat and trying to get through when calling the government office to get clarity is impossible.

Try it out for yourself at

This is the best our government can do?

Can someone explain this to me? Is the Ontario Government bullying businesses to reduce part-time employees? The government is forcing employers to pay two groups of employees (part-time and full-time) inequitably. A child in grade school would have understood these calculations to be unfair.  Please change this back to the way it was done before January 1, 2018 when it was fair and equitable to employers and employees and stop making changes until they are at least reviewed by the grade school student mentioned above.

Mark Sherry, MBA, MA, BComm

Concerned business owner