The number of Canadians who work for companies that employ forced labor in Canada is at a record high, and the Canadian government is responding by banning most employers from hiring workers without a work permit.
The Canadian Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that most companies can’t use the forced labor loophole, but it’s still a huge problem for workers.
The board ruled that companies must use the exemption to avoid paying employees a minimum wage of $11.50 per hour, but workers can still be forced to work overtime if they don’t get paid on time.
“This is an extraordinary situation and it’s an extraordinary time,” said the chair of the board, David Zang, who noted the number of companies using the loophole jumped in the past year.
“The board has decided to take this unprecedented step to ensure that employers do not use this loophole.”
Zang said that under the rules of the labour code, employers can’t ask workers to work extra hours if they’re paid less than the minimum wage.
But the labour board found that when companies use the loophole, they’re essentially forcing workers to do unpaid work to make a profit.
The board has been trying to close the loophole for years, but a few companies still use it.
Zang acknowledged that many companies are using the exemption because they can’t pay workers for overtime.
He said some employers have resorted to forcing workers into dangerous conditions that aren’t necessary.
He also said some companies even force workers to drive for hours on dangerous highways or to go to dangerous locations, because they’re too busy.
Some employers are even employing a loophole that allows workers to refuse to work, including when they don, not when they are asked.
When a worker is asked to work a certain number of hours, the employer can ask them to work less, and that will trigger an exemption from paying the workers a minimum salary.
The board also ruled that workers can’t be fired for refusing to work without a permit.
Zang added that the board has ordered the Canada Revenue Agency to do more to crack down on companies that abuse the loophole.
If an employer violates the exemption, workers can apply to a court for a restraining order to stop the company from doing so, which will prevent the company violating the exemption.