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THE QUESTION

I was hired part-time in November, 2016. Since then, I have never worked fewer than 40 hours a week. Am I supposed to be designated as a full-time employee and be given benefits as such?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Natalie MacDonald

Founder, MacDonald & Associates, Toronto

First, there is no legal requirement to hire a person on as a full-time employee.

Second, provincial employment standards legislation allows employees to work up to a maximum of 44 hours a week, regardless of whether the employee is full-time, part-time, a student or casual employee. If, however, you find yourself working more than 44 hours a week, you are entitled to receive overtime pay in the amount of one and a half times your regular rate of pay for each hour of work over 44 hours a week, regardless of your part-time status.

Third, provincial employment-standards legislation provides most employees the basic minimum rights at work, and treats full-time and part-time employees equally. All employees are entitled to receive a regular pay period, wages, regular half-hour breaks after five hours of continuous work, vacation time and pay and all other benefits conferred upon them by statute.

If your employer has placed you on a part-time contract as an independent contractor of some sort, but treats you as though you are an employee, then it might be that you are being denied significant entitlements. In that case, you need to address this with your employer to rectify your situation, or alternatively consult with your Ministry of Labour or seek employment legal counsel.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Bruce Sandy

Principal, Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting, Vancouver

I hear that you are frustrated that you have not been made a full-time employee after working for your current company for about 10 months. It sounds like you were hired on a part-time basis likely through an employment agreement.

Many private small and medium-sized companies hire staff on contractual agreements or on a casual basis so that they do not have to incur the additional cost of paying full-time wages as well as for other benefits for a number of months. Full benefit packages can add as much as 30 per cent to labour costs for companies.

You will want to get the advice of an employment lawyer about your rights under the Canada Labour Code and appropriate provincial employment legislation. Under the Canada Labour Code, you should be entitled to all the rights of a full-time worker if you have completed 12 uninterrupted months of work. This includes vacation pay, severance, and protection from unjust firing.

Have a discussion with your boss or the HR official for your company and indicate how many months and hours that you have worked so far and indicate how much you like the job and that you would like to be made a full-time employee. Ask if and when they are willing to do this. If they say "No," then you should seek the advice of an employment lawyer, update your resumé and start to look for a new full-time position.

Recognize that this may compromise the relationship with your current employer and they may want you gone sooner rather than later – i.e. before the 12-month period when they will be required under law to change your employments status to full time.

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