Job Evaluation: A Quest for Gender Neutrality

The long debated issue of gender bias in job evaluation systems has become even more important with the advent of pay equity legislation in Ontario. This statute requires the use of a gender-neutral job comparison system to identify and rectify wage discrimination in female-dominated jobs. Unfortunately, this legislation provides very little guidance as to what is meant by a gender-neutral job comparison system. This paper identifies the ingredients of a gender-neutral comparison system.

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Developments in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Practices in Canada: An Update from the 1980s

This study was undertaken as part of the Structural Change in Canadian Industrial Relations project at the Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto.

The Canadian industrial relations system has followed a course of incremental change and adjustment over the past decade that leaves intact the basic institutional framework and relationships among labor, business, and government. Thus, the system, while changing in ways that are similar to employment relations in other industrial nations, has not undergone any dramatic transformation. While the political forces that influence industrial relations policy and practice predict continuation of this incremental pattern of adjustment, economic pressures to adjust rapidly to a changing market context are likely to test the resilience of this political equilibrium in the 1990s. If the pace and pattern of innovations in industrial relations policy and practice does not accommodate changes in the marketplace, we may expect, at the margin, some decline in investments in Canada contributing to slow growth in employment and income and lagging national competitiveness. Such economic stagnation will, inevitably, put new strains on the political alignment that has made incremental change possible over the last decade.

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Freedom of Religion in the Workplace: Legislative Protection

Current Human Rights legislation protects workers from discrimination on a number of grounds including religion. This paper looks at the history of legislation prohibiting discrimination and reviews current legislation to determine how freedom of religion is protected in the workplace. Precedents from discrimination cases are outlined to give an indication of how cases are currently being settled. Finally, the paper looks at cases concerning freedom of religion in the workplace over the past fifteen years to assess whether the legislation is in use and is effective.

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Unions and Workplace Smoking Policy

Do you remember when workers could smoke in the workplace? This article was written in 1992, at a time when concern over environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) was being identified as a leading occupational health hazard and policy makers were instituting smoking restrictions and bans in workplaces.

This study draws on three major sources of information: published literature on workplace ETS and smoking policies; unpublished literature from unions, health promotion organizations, employers, etc.; and interviews with over 30 union representatives and officials of health promotion organizations. The issue of workplace ETS and union involvement in policy-making is addressed from the perspective of union-management and union-government relations.

This report was originally prepared for the Health Promotion Directorate, Health and Welfare Canada.

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Labour Law Reform: Radical Departure or Natural Evolution?

The current proposals to amend Ontario’s collective bargaining laws have given rise to a loud, and frequently intemperate, debate that has not only divided Ontario’s labour relations community but has now moved to the centre of Ontario’s political stage. Underlying this debate is a realignment of the relative political influence of business and labour that came with the NDP’s election victory in the fall of 1990. Labour, after it recovered from the initial surprise of seeing its political ally actually form the government, quickly realized that it now had access to the highest levels of government. Business, on the other hand, faced with the cold reality that it, rather than labour, was now on the outside began to feel increasingly insecure. This major political shift in Ontario occurred just as Ontario was on the verge of experiencing the most severe economic downturn since the early 1930s, a factor that has further exacerbated the present debate over labour law reform.

The present debate has now focused on the discussion paper released by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour last November. Within this paper are set out a number of ‘preferred options for reforms.’ These ‘preferred options’ include a new preamble to the Act that expressly recognizes the right to organize and participate in lawful trade union activities; the desirability of improving terms and conditions of employment through collective bargaining; the need to enhance the ability of employers and trade unions to adapt to change; the desirability of settling collective bargaining differences and providing procedures for the expeditious resolution of disputes.

This publication is a revised version of a speech given on March 24, 1992, at the EquiNet Conference, ‘How to Prepare Now for the Amendments to the Ontario Labour Relations Act’.

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Work and Family Issues: Beyond ‘Swapping the Mopping and Sharing the Caring’

During the past two decades, there has been a significant transformation in the Canadian economy, labour force and in the social and familial context in which labour force participation decisions are made. An increase in the labour force participation of women, particularly married women and those with children, together with a rising number of both single-parent as well as dual-earner families in the labour force are focusing greater attention on work and family issues. Despite the changes in the labour force and family structure, a dichotomous relationship between work and family still exists creating serious conflicts for employees and employers and raising concerns for unions and policymakers.

Government policies have supported families through anti-discrimination provisions in federal and provincial human rights legislation, maternity protection and adoption provisions in federal and provincial employment standards legislation, and maternity and adoption benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act. More recently, amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act and to employment standards legislation in several jurisdictions have extended these provisions to recognize the joint responsibility of both parents for family members and to help ‘workers balance their work and family lives in a way that encourages the retention and commitment of our … human resources in a competitive labour market’ (Ontario Ministry of Labour 1989).

This paper looks at the window of opportunity for a partnership between employers, employees, unions and governments to address the new dynamics of the workplace and the family and enable men and women to contribute more fully both on the job and at home.

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Implementing Pay Equity in Ontario

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate issues in the implementation of pay equity, based on the experience of Ontario. The Ontario Act is considered as having the broadest scope of coverage of pay equity legislation, not only in Canada but in North America. This paper compares the Pay Equity Act of Ontario to other pieces of Canadian equal pay for work of equal value legislation, exploring the similarities and dissimilarities, highlighting the unique features and discussing the implications of various provisions.

A number of issues surround the implementation of pay equity legislation in Ontario. Based on information gathered from conferences, seminars, published documents and interviews with various employers, unions, advocacy groups, and the Pay Equity Commission, the issues discussed relate to the implementation process, the legislation, the role of the Pay Equity Commission, pay equity and collective bargaining and excluded women.

Despite the many issues and problems that the parties face in the implementation of pay equity, there have been a number of settlements that have been reached. Two of these success stories are summarized. As these and other cases are examined, the ability to settle in a timely manner can be attributed to several elements: earlier commencement, favourable labour-management relationships, favourable attitudes towards the premise of pay equity, and the choice of a gender-neutral comparison system. The general impact of pay equity legislation and negotiations have on labour-management relationships, inter-union relationships and intra-union relationships is also examined. This paper concludes with comments on whether Ontario’s equal pay for work of equal value legislation will work, that is, eliminate the portion of the wage gap that is attributed to the undervaluation of women’s work.

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Smoking Restrictions in the Workplace

This paper looks at the implementation of smoking restrictions in Canadian workplaces in an attempt to discover the impetus for these new policies and laws, as well as some of their social and legal implications.

Workplace smoking restrictions have come about because of new medical evidence claiming a real hazard to non-smokers from environmental tobacco smoke. Although this evidence is inconclusive with respect to healthy non-smokers, there is still enough suggestion of a long-term risk to warrant preventive action. The notion of restricting smoking has been popularized by an effective anti-smoking lobby, in turn, prompting employers and legislators to respond to the new public mood.

Case studies of the implementation of smoking policies by two Canadian employers revealed some of the difficulties involved in regulating personal behaviour and raised doubts about the effectiveness and enforceability of smoking policies.

A major implication of the legal and industrial relations issues is the fact that, despite the protection of individuals’ rights in the workplace, there is little existing law to protect the non-smoker or the smoker, but workplace legislation is quickly changing this for the non-smoker.

In light of the potential social impact on smokers and to improve the effectiveness of smoking policies, employers must combine workplace restrictions with supportive efforts in the implementation of these policies.

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AIDS and the Employment Relationship

The increased incidence of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is beginning to have a significant impact in the workplace. Some unique employment issues are being raised because of two dimensions of the problem: first, the disease is fatal and to date there is no known cure; and second, as a result of the lack of knowledge about AIDS, a great deal of fear of transmission of the disease persists among other members of the workforce. Current legislation provides AIDS victims with some employment protection, but because of the ‘newness’ of the disease, and the myriad of uncertain and untested boundaries that exist to be challenged in the employment relationship in this area, there is still a need to clarify the issues and to define more clearly the protection that exists in all areas of the law. In particular, there is a need for consistent social and legislative policy to assist victims of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to be allowed to continue to participate fully in the labour force as long as they are able to continue. Attitudes, however, appear to present the largest barrier to a satisfactory employment relationship. These discriminatory attitudes must be changed through education and continued government intervention.

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Employment Related Drug Testing: The Legal Implications for Employers

Employment related drug testing has become a contentious issue in Canada. While some employers have implemented some form of drug testing and many more are still considering it, the extent of its legality has yet to be determined by the human rights commissions, arbitrators and the courts. This essay examines the legal implications of employment related drug testing in Canada by analyzing relevant human rights legislation, arbitral jurisprudence, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In carrying out this analysis some reference is made to the legal developments in the United States.

The major conclusions of this paper are that employers considering a drug testing program should avoid pre-employment drug testing for most jobs and should only test existing employees in most jobs upon a reasonable suspicion of drug use. Employers must also take all reasonable precautions in drug testing so as to ensure accurate test results and limit the extent of invasion into employees’ privacy. Finally, employers would also be wise to assist or accommodate employees who test positive prior to considering any disciplinary action.

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