The Act for Protecting the Health and welfare of Working Albertans, Bill 30, has made an amendment in the definition of employer in its Occupational Health and Safety Act. A Human Capital Trends survey – 2018, shows that 50 percent among the respondents had many freelancers or contractors, in their workforce. Globally the share of contingent workers has increased at a fast pace. The growth was 36 percent in the past five years.
The amendment in the OHS Act has not only recognized the issue but has also addressed it. The growing contingent workforce norms now require employer and companies to meet obligations for certain workers even though there is no direct contract of employment.
This will be put in force from June 1. The definition of employer under the OHS Act mentions that an employer is an individual who offers employment or engages one (or more) workers. Categories of employees include employees or workers engaged from a temporary staffing agency, or a person who is regarded as the Representative/Director/Officer of a corporation by the employer. Also included in this are persons employed by the employer who look at the occupational health and safety of the workers of the Corporation/Employer.
Also the amended Act gives the definition of a temporary staffing agency as any company which retains workers and keeps them in positions or arranges their placement with other employers.
In the past the definition of the employer was of an individual who is self-employed, or a person who employs one or more workers. it also defines as a person assigned to be the Representative/Director/Officer of employer of a corporation who looks at the occupational health and safety of the workers of the corporation.
Persons receiving the impact
Moreover, it defines he temporary staffing agency broadly. Presently it includes agencies engaged in traditional staffing, labor providers, and the companies which are not engaged in providing labor as business but over a period of time, provide some workers to another employer. Moreover they neither manage nor direct their work. Such workers settle in the organization of the receiving employer and are under the supervision on a day-to-day basis.
These provisions of the OHS act make sure that every worker has a designated employer at the work place.
They have to fulfill the following obligations:
- Provide for the safety, health and welfare of all workers who work for that employer. It also includes such workers who do not do the work of the said employer but are present at the worksite, where the work is in progress. It additionally includes other persons in the nearby areas of worksite who are impacted by dangers which originate from the worksite;
- Create an awareness of their duties and rights outlined by the OHS act, among the workers. Also in this list are the regulations, the OHS code and of safety and health issues happening from the work at the place;
- No worker faces or participates in harassment/violence at the work place; and
- All the workers are under the supervision of a competent person who is familiar with the regulations and the codes OHS act that apply on the work at the work place.
Obligations for both
- The employer receiving workers must not depend on paper qualifications or description/ assurance of competence of the assigning company. Such employer must first have the assurance that the worker is competent to perform the assigned work.
- The company which assigns them, which is a staffing agency or otherwise, must have the satisfaction, that the worker is apt to do the assigned tasks. Moreover, there must be an arrangement for equipping the worker with required personal protective equipment, before the other employer uses his services. The worker must have the ability before commencing work with the employer receiving him. Additionally, there must also be an assurance that the employer can take care of the safety and health of workers.
- Furthermore, the employer who receives now cannot request workers by trade description and take work from them without having an inquiry.
- Also the company employer/agency which assigns them cannot dispatch a worker to a second employer and suppose regarding meeting all health and safety requirements.
- The companies who assign and the employers who receive must be careful regarding the contract language. They must also know the procedures for assigning and on boarding. This will to make sure that they meet the duties shown in the OHS act.
- Moreover as a practice, receiving employers take a hands-off approach regarding the contingent workers. In fact contingent workers are not distinguishable from the permanent workers regarding their welfare, health, and safety at the work-place.