According to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, an increasing number of people in British Columbia are working at temporary jobs.
“The clear trend is temporary jobs that are unprotected and open for abuse,” said B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair, who has identified the results of the two-year study as “deeply disturbing.” The report goes on to indicate that those people who are employed temporarily tend to live in poverty, while working at jobs with little security. They also do not typically enjoy other perks and benefits that permanent employment allows.
“I think we have to fight the dominant message today which is good-paying jobs are bad for the economy,” said Sinclair. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” He believes that some employers attempt to receive a short-term gain from hiring temporarily, even though it can damage the overall economy in the long term.
The B.C. Ministry of Jobs has added that the report has shed important light on the state of temp agencies themselves — 66% were found to not be legally registered, even though this is a legal requirement.
Currently, about 40% of post-recession job creation in B.C. has come from temporary employment. Although many who are pro-temp work argue that the positions serve as a “foot in the door” for more permanent positions, many workers have reported that making this transition to full-time work can be very difficult, especially in a limited job market. There are additional advantages, though, to using temp companies from the perspective of businesses — a staffing agency can check references, conduct basic interviews, and administer tests to see if candidates are the right fit for a job.
Clearly, an update is needed to the Employment Standards Act, which was crafted before non-standard forms of employment became increasingly popular. Temp workers need to receive minimum employment standards, and staffing agencies need to be held accountable for the positions they place employees in.