An employer should respond promptly, fully and carefully when it
receives communications regarding possible violations of the
Employment Standards Act (British Columbia).
In most cases, the complainant must use the "Self
Help" process to try to resolve the matter directly with the
employer. That process starts with a Request for Payment
to the employer. The Request should not be ignored. The process
gives the employer a chance to resolve problems without involvement
of the Employment Standards Branch.
If the matter is not resolved, a complaint may be filed, and an
officer of the Branch will contact the employer to investigate. If
the employer wants to contest the claim, it must provide all
relevant evidence and make all available arguments during the
an officer is only required to "make reasonable
efforts" to give an employer an opportunity to respond, which
may be a letter or a couple of phone calls, and no more;
a "Determination" is issued after the investigation,
and it can be enforced with extensive powers of collection;
there is a limited right to appeal a Determination; and
evidence which could have been tendered during the
investigation but was not, is generally not admissible on
As soon as a Request for Payment or complaint is received,
employers should gather and preserve all relevant evidence and
consider getting legal advice to make a full response.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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