The New Brunswick provincial government has introduced legislative amendments to the Employment Standards Act to eliminate situations in which people living with a disability receive less than minimum wage for doing work comparable to that completed by others.
The amendments would update the definition of employer and employee to ensure a clear employer/employee relationship when an employment agency is involved and remove ambiguity around the paying of sub-minimum wage stipends.
“The practice now in place of allowing for stipends that are less than minimum wage is archaic and needs to end,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Persons living with a disability are critical to our workforce and deserve to be compensated fairly. This legislation will also ensure more inclusion and equality.”
The amendments to the definition of employer include any person who authorizes an employee to be in or about a place of employment to perform work, supply services or receive training.
The amendments to the definition of employee include adding a person who performs work or supplies services, or who receives training, unless exempted by regulation, regardless of whether the person receives accommodations to meet their needs.
“For too long, individuals with an intellectual/developmental disability have not had equal protection under the law when it comes to employment,” said Sarah Wagner, executive director of Inclusion NB. “Stories of individuals being paid sub minimum wage have been all too common. We are pleased to see a future where persons with a disability are fully included in the workplace and their time and contributions are valued.”
“This is a historic milestone in equal employment opportunities for persons with a disability and positions New Brunswick as a leader in the hiring and retention of persons with a disability who are an untapped labour market pool,” said Haley Flaro, executive director of Ability New Brunswick.
The amendments to the Employment Standards Act address Recommendation 28 of the New Brunswick Disability Action Plan, which called for changes to prohibit the use of sub-minimum wage stipends for persons with a disability (and others) by the end of 2022.