We can all learn important lessons from contract flipping
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
Earlier this month, The Star Vancouver ran a story about Khin Kyi, a Vancouver cleaner who won a case against a corporate behemoth that involved contract flipping.
Contract flipping occurs when companies hire service companies with the intent to change these service providers within a few years. Considering the frequency of these changes, the practice of contract flipping needs to be examined a lot more closely. Who benefits from contract flipping? The workers? I beg to differ. It is reasonable to presume that if a company hires a new service provider, the previous workers’ jobs could be jeopardized.
I would imagine that Khin Kyi, along with numerous other workers who are affected by each flip, would not
embrace this job jeopardy with open arms. Workers—especially those who are hard-working and dedicated—deserve to feel a sense of job security and a sense of comfort that could help them to feel relaxed and more inclined to perform their job. This sense of job security could then help to increase productivity. Therefore, I believe that companies that engage in contract flipping should carefully analyze the use of this practice if they want to improve their productivity levels. After all, a happy and secure work force increases productivity day by day.
However, I started to realize that contract flipping can also be a reminder of the constant presence of change. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Heraclitus’s quote is ever more applicable in the business world filled with currency fluctuations, unstable markets, and low sales.
Changes and a lot more changes are inevitable, dear workers. Be ready for job changes. Be ready for the possibility that you may no longer have that contractual job that you depended on to feed your children or to pay off your student loan. Be ready to also remember that contract flipping is here to remind us about the importance of carefully reading contracts. Let us try to resist the urge to skim through contracts or to scroll through to the end of the page with the finely written terms and conditions.
When we don’t take the time to read contracts, we often sign our rights away. One of these rights might include suing for breach of contract. Or perhaps you gave up that right without really knowing that you did when you skimmed through the terms and conditions.
Let’s also remember that several resources are available to help us to understand contracts. One of these resources can be found on www.povnet.org. This site provides a comprehensive list of different advocacy groups throughout British Columbia, including groups that offer legal aid and legal assistance.
With regards to the theme of legality, contract flipping is also a reminder of the practices that can occur if there are loopholes in legislation. According to a 2015 report issued by the British Columbia Federation of Labour, inconsistencies and weaknesses in British Columbia’s successorship legislation under Section 35 of British Columbia’s Labour Code mean that this legislation does not apply to contract flipping. The federation suggested the need to review the labour code to address contract flipping. The suggestions seem to have been addressed for the real estate industry where house flipping is rampant. However, changes to the legislation for the service industry seem to have been ignored. Contract flipping will be here for a while, so be ready for it.