Submission to Ontario Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Act Review Project
Letter to the Minister
September 28, 2000
The Honourable Chris Stockwell
Minister of Labour
400 University Avenue, 14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1T7
Attn: ESA Review Project
Dear Minister Stockwell:
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) is a high tech industry association with over 250 Ontario-based members, a figure that represents half of our national membership. While most are in the telecommunication and information technology industries, we also have biotech, aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies among our membership. The vast majority of members are SME's, the vital driving force of the new economy. They are vigorous R&D performers, and few do not export.
The Ontario Employment Standards Act provides exemptions or exclusions for certain professions from specific regulations. Within the province's high-tech sector, many of its workers who are engaged in professional knowledge-based tasks are included within the general scheme of the Act. Within these knowledge-based occupations, the requirements of the Act - especially sections 7, 17 and 24 (Payment of wages and hours of work/overtime) - are inconsistent with the way work is typically carried out and compensated. In other words, the Act regulates work practices through a punch clock and "entitlement focused" approach, an application which conflicts with the "self-directed", "entrepreneurial" culture of high-tech industries.
CATAAlliance recommends the following policy options:
CATAAlliance members agree that legislation similar to the model adopted in British Columbia is a favorable approach to address this concern and would promote a healthy business climate for Ontario's knowledge-based industry.
- Repeal section 7.1
Substitute "An employer shall pay to an employee, all regular wages, stock options or other performance based compensation package set out in a written contract of employment..."
- An exemption of specified workers from Section 17 and 24 (Hours of Work and Overtime respectively) and Statutory Holidays
Certain self-regulating professions are already exempt from provisions within the Act. Certain workers in the knowledge-based industry perform work that is unique and the regularity in which they must apply their skills is not consistent. The Ministry should consider a recommendation for a new exclusion of class of workers.
Classes of "high-tech" workers who should be exempt based on their requirements of work include:
High-Tech management personnel, electronics technologist, mechanical design technologist, business systems analyst, application software trainers and installers, computer systems analyst, manufacturing engineer, materials engineer, Internet development professional, multimedia professional, computer animator, software engineer, scientific technician, scientific technologist, software developer, software tester, applied biosciences professional, quality control professional, technology sales professional (other than retail sales clerk), electronics engineer or any similarly skilled worker.
CATAAlliance agrees that non-professional high-tech staff (ie. Administrative, support) are paid on a different scale and have skills and carry out duties that are not specific to the high-tech industry; they should not be included in the above out-right exemption.
CATAAlliance and its members propose that it would be helpful (ie. typically defined in unquantifiable terms of increased revenues or added revenue for R&D and acceleration of sales) that non-professional high-tech staff (ie. Administrative, support) be subject to relaxed working regulations - the proposed Ontario legislation of 60 hours maximum per week with overtime payable after 48 hours is an acceptable model.
CATAAlliance proposes that if high-tech workers must meet any criteria beyond occupations listed above, that they must receive (not exclusively) payment of stock options or performance paid bonuses as part of their compensation. These individuals take a vested interest in the company's success and often times, to move forward, should be called upon to work the hours required to realize their gains. It is also an "in-place" dynamic that takes into account low-creative/intensity workflow.
CATAAlliance and its members do not feel that educational criteria are essential to be met to define high-tech workers. Top developers are becoming increasingly self-taught and look to advance their capabilities through seminars, off-site courses, and personal learning time. It is proposed that a high-tech worker be defined as one who possesses similar and relevant work experience.
CATAAlliance and its members propose that, should a definition of a high-tech company be required to distinguish itself for the purpose of these amendments, that a high-tech company consist of at least 30% of high-tech personnel, as defined above.