Let’s build pathways to good jobs, starting from our workplaces.

By Yogendra B. Shakya (Senior Research Scientist), Axelle Janczur (Executive Director),  and Cliff Ledwos (Director, Primary Health Care), Access Alliance

Bad jobs are making us sick_JPEGAccess Alliance has created an info-graphic poster titled “Bad Jobs are making us Sick.” The poster highlights the rise in insecure, precarious types of jobs in Canada and the damaging health impacts that result. According to World Health Organization, “insecure jobs harm health, even more than unemployment.”  Click this link to download info-graphic or visit www.accessalliance.ca/Good-jobs.

However, the main goal of this info-graphic is to mobilize action and system solutions to build pathways to good jobs. The info-graphic lists five concrete steps, outlined below, that we can take to stop the rise of temporary, insecure types of jobs, while proactively promoting economic well-being and health of people stuck in insecure jobs.

Research shows that insecure types of jobs are on the rise not just in the private sector but also within broader public sector (healthcare, education, childcare, settlement, community and social service agencies, etc). A survey conducted by Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of 3500 non-profit organizations in Ontario found that less than half of people working in the sector had full-time jobs. Please see our Where are the Good Jobs? report and our Like Wonder Women, Goddesses and Robots for powerful case stories on this. Thus we call on public sector leaders and decision makers to champion an internally driven change movement – reverse this unhealthy trend, starting from our own workplaces. Then, we can leverage this movement to convince the private sectors (banks, fast food industry, small businesses, etc.) to commit to good jobs. We also believe that a public sector led movement can help us identify and mobilize the right combination of actionable policy solutions to this complex problem.

During this past year, we have seen increasing support in building pathways to good jobs. The Law Commission of Ontario, United Way Toronto (in partnership with McMaster University), and Metcalf Foundation have commissioned major reports on precarious employment and identified concrete policy and practice solutions. Atkinson Foundation has recently put resources to champion decent jobs. A Good Jobs Summit is being held on October 3-5 of this year. We can further the momentum through our own commitment and concrete actions.

To kick start the process of change, Access Alliance is adopting an agency level ‘good jobs strategy’ to put all five steps into practice. We will report on our strategies and accomplishments regularly on this blog site. Please share the Bad Jobs are Making us Sick info-graphic to start discussion and actions within the agency and sector that you work with. Then let others know about your strategies and success stories to inspire broader change.

Please also see our Op-Ed piece in Toronto Star and our blog post in HealthyDebate.ca forum to learn more about precarious jobs and its impacts.

Five steps towards Good Jobs: The five steps we recommend can serve as a blueprint for developing a ‘good jobs strategy’ suited to your agency context. [Note temporary jobs refer to all types of precarious jobs including ‘temp agency’ jobs, on-call, relief staff].

1. STOP THE RISE OF INSECURE JOBS by limiting temporary, part-time positions to less than 5% of your workforce (as recommended by International Labour Organization).

2. PROMOTE WELL-BEING of temporary, part-time employees by offering them fair wages and health/extended benefits.

3. PROTECT temporary, part-time employees by adopting higher than minimum compliance of employment standards and occupational health regulations.

4. PROMOTE PATHWAYS TO STABLE EMPLOYMENT for temporary, part-time employees by offering them training and networking opportunities.

5. SCREEN FOR, ADJUST RISK, AND ADDRESS harmful health impacts from insecure jobs within primary care, by working cross-sectorally with occupational therapists and workers action centres.

 


How to put these steps into action:

Here are some example strategies on how to put these five steps into practice. We encourage your agency to come up with your own innovative solutions. Most importantly, start a discussion in your agency about this issue and then work together to find solutions to champion good, healthy jobs.

1. STOP THE RISE OF INSECURE JOBS by limiting temporary, part-time positions to less than 5% of your workforce (as recommended by International Labour Organization).

How to: Adopt the ILO recommended “less than 5% temporary, part-time staff composition” as a formal HR policy for your agency, with special emphasis on reducing “involuntary” part-time, temporary positions. Calculate on a regular basis the percentage of your staff who hold involuntary temporary, part-time types of jobs. If percentage is higher than 5%, develop a strategy with clear time line on how to bring it down to less than 5%. This can include a combination of strategies such as offering full-time, permanent positions to those who have been working on contract or part-time for lengthy periods, introducing a HR best practice policy of creating temporary jobs only for “exceptional” conditions (e.g. to cover for parental leave, for work that current permanent employees cannot do), combining part-time jobs to create full-time positions where appropriate, and proactively strategizing together with your temporary, part-time employees about potential steps they can take (e.g relevant professional development trainings) to transition to more permanent, full-time positions within the agency.

2. PROMOTE WELL-BEING of temporary, part-time employees by offering them fair wages and health/extended benefits.

How to: Ensure that your temporary, part-time employees are paid the same wage rate as full-time, permanent employees if they are doing the same work. Make sure that temporary, part-time employees are paid above-poverty, decent wages. Job insecurity combined with poverty wage can have lethal social and health impacts. Raise the Minimum Campaign recommends $14/hour minimum wage, with regular increase adjusted to cost of living. Work with your insurance provider to find institutional solutions to offer full or some level of extended health and other employee benefits to your temporary, part-time employees. Dental and prescription drug coverage would be vital. Moreover, you could set an example by taking a universalist approach and offer full extended health and other benefits to all employees from the first day of work.

3. PROTECT temporary, part-time employees by adopting higher than minimum compliance of employment standards and occupational health regulations.

How to: Adopt a formal HR policy that ensures that all employees (particularly those in temporary, part-time positions) get full orientation about their rights guaranteed by these four laws/regulations: Employment Standards Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Worker Safety and Insurance Act, and Ontario Human Rights Code. For those employees hired through “Temp agencies,” make sure they know their rights guaranteed by the 2009 Employment Standards Amendment Act (Temporary Help Agencies), including their rights to apply for permanent jobs within your agency. Give your employees hard copies related to these Acts/regulations as part of their employee orientation package. If not already, champion a transparent and accessible internal process for your employees (specially those in precarious positions) to discuss and resolve occupational health risks and other workers rights related concerns. At the same time, work with relevant internal bodies (union stewards, Occupational Health and Safety Committee) to proactively find ways to overcome occupational health and other negative risks/experiences that temporary, part-time may be more likely to be exposed to.

4. PROMOTE PATHWAYS TO STABLE EMPLOYMENT for temporary, part-time employees by offering them training and networking opportunities.

How to: In cases where full-time permanent positions are not possible, offer generous professional development opportunities to your temporary, part-time employees so they can build relevant skills to find more stable forms of employment elsewhere. A potential best practice can be to offer a training stipend at the end of the contract so they can use it to update their skills or gain new employable skills. Another valuable support can be to proactively offer networking opportunities to them to help expand their professional connections (e.g., introduce them to other employers and successful people in their field). Your assurance to provide a strong work reference for their future job application process can be a great motivation booster. Here again, the important thing is to openly discuss career goals with your part-time, temporary employees and find actionable strategies that both parties can take to build pathways to stable employment, either within your agency or outside.

5. SCREEN FOR, ADJUST RISK, AND ADDRESS harmful health impacts from insecure jobs within primary care, by working cross-sectorally with occupational therapists and workers action centres.

How to: We strongly encourage all agencies to consult/collaborate with occupational therapists and workers action centres to proactively implement innovative solutions to build good jobs and healthy working environment within your agency. We call on healthcare and social/community service agencies to work cross-sectorally with occupational therapists and workers advocacy centres to become champions for good jobs for the client communities you serve. You can do this by developing routinized screening and intervention protocol for your clients to address harmful health and social impacts they may be facing from being stuck in insecure, unhealthy jobs. In other words, don’t just ask clients whether they are working or not, but also ask about what kind of job(s) they are in and specifically inquire about how their job conditions may be impacting their health and socio-economic wellbeing. Then work with your clients to find steps that both parties (provider and client) can take within reasonable means to mitigate or overcome harmful risks and impacts. Steps that providers (doctors, nurses etc) can take include helping client file an Employment Standard claim (http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/forms/claim.php), WSIB claim (http://www.wsib.on.ca/en/community/WSIB )or an Occupational Health and Safety claim (http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/ohsa/index.php ). This is similar to how providers may help clients apply for community housing or special diet allowance. Build cross-sector client referral pathways to employment and settlement agencies with proven track record of helping people find good jobs (not just any jobs). Join campaigns to advocate for workable policy solutions to stop the rise of bad, unhealthy jobs.

 

Also see our Call to Action on fair wages.

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