The Ontario Ministry of Labour has posted a video it calls,
"What to Expect During an Employment Standards
Inspection". The video, which is just over 5 minutes
long, depicts a friendly and orderly process in which the employer
is given ten days of advance notice of the inspection and has an
opportunity to ask the Employment Standards Officer questions about
what its obligations are under the Employment Standards Act, 2000
(the "ESA"). The video states that such inspections
are typically prompted by third party information or local
intelligence received by the Ministry of Labour or are simply
random site visits. The video does not explicitly state that
inspections can be initiated in connection with employee complaints
but perhaps that is what is meant by "local
Employers may wish to watch the video just to get a sense of how
the Ministry thinks investigations should be conducted and for the
Ministry's list of the most common areas of review.
However, if you are lucky enough to get advance notice of an
inspection we strongly recommend calling your legal counsel to
discuss the potential issues that may be reviewed. The ESA
gives Employment Standards Officers the power to make orders
without a hearing and, as the video notes, they can order
compliance or recommend fines and charges on the basis of the site
inspection alone. We also caution employers against taking
the Ministry up on its offer to use the inspection as an
opportunity to ask the Officer questions about your obligations
under the ESA; it may simply provide the Employment Standards
Officer with a roadmap for his or her inspection.
We have provided a link to the video below. If you have
any questions about the Ministry's inspection and investigation
powers or if you would like more information about the ESA's
new Self-Audit obligations, you can reach out to a member of your
Cassels Brock employment law group at any time.
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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