The Impact of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act on Employee Wellness

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, passed January 1, 2018, is now almost entirely in force. As part of the new Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, most minimum wage earners are entitled to a 22% wage increase, to the tune of $14.00 per hour. As well, ten personal emergency leave days were guaranteed to all workers, with two of them being paid. Changes to the definition of workers and contractors, scheduling rules, equal pay rules, and more protected leaves are also part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

The economic and social effect of such a watershed change to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) isn’t debatable, but what about the impact of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act on workplace wellness? While it is too soon yet to see the data, it’s expected that the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will have a positive and lasting impact on wellness in the workplace. Because of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, most workers will experience many positive benefits to their wellness, such as:

Reduced financial worry

The rationale behind the minimum wage increase is that it gives workers a living wage so that the basics of life are within their reach and financial reality. For minimum wage earners, this is a relief. As well, it increases the spending power that minimum wage earners have, which is beneficial to both the economy and other workers whose employment depends upon consumers.

Reduced stress

Earning a living wage will certainly alleviate some of the daily stressors that most people deal with. The up-to-10 protected emergency personal leave days will further serve to reduce the stresses of worrying about a reprisal for being ill, or having to attend to a personal matter or emergency that can’t be handled outside of working hours.

Better work-life balance

With the inclusion of personal emergency leave days for all workers, comes the reduced concern about work-life balance, especially for those dealing with childcare or elder care (or both!) arrangements. In addition to both the personal emergency leave days and the other protected leave allowances (such as domestic violence leave), the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act includes a mandatory third week of vacation time for workers who have been with a company for more than five years. The benefits of taking vacation on mental wellness are numerous.

Increased job satisfaction

The whole spirit of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is to increase fairness in the workplace, specifically when it comes to equal pay. Under the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, casual, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees, who do the same work as full-time workers are entitled to the same rate of pay. When workers feel that they are being treated fairly, they experience higher levels of job satisfaction. Increased job satisfaction has the power to potentially boost both productivity levels, and even overall happiness, which has a direct positive correlation to wellness.

The focus on workplace wellness is more prevalent than ever. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act clearly supports of strategies meant to increase factors that contribute to wellness. To only simply consider the economic and social consequences of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is a disservice; it is also an important move toward workplace wellness for all workers in Ontario.

Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator

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