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New legislation affecting part-time and contract work could come in as early as next year. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

Business groups are urging the Ontario government not to adjust the province's employment laws in ways they say will increase costs.

It's the final day of hearings into the changing nature of the workplace. The government is considering reforming the Employment Standards Act and the labour code to better reflect the realities of part-time and temporary work.

The changes look at tightening rules over shift scheduling, overtime and contract work.

"Presently the rules work for business," said Karl Baldauf, vice president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, one of the groups opposing changes. "We want to make sure that any changes that do happen, reflect that we cannot weaken Ontario's competitiveness."

Baldauf worries that shifting the labour laws will "add to the cost of doing business" in the province.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, though, says the concerns of employees and those looking for work around the province are real and must be addressed.

"The workplace that we have today — and that we're bringing legislation into — isn't the workplace of 1990," he said.
"I think you can treat employees well and still have a very strong economy."

The panel that's reviewing the employment laws is due to submit its report in early 2016. But it will be a year from now before any reforms are introduced.