The Toronto Star recently
reported that the Ontario Ministry of Labour found 238
employment standards violations in an "inspection blitz"
of 304 employers in the cleaning, recreational and security
industries. Almost every employer who was found to be in violation
of these standards voluntarily rectified their respective issues.
This is an important reminder of both the powers of the
Ministry's employment standards officers and
employers' duties under the Employment
Some of the employers (and their legal and HR teams) mentioned
in the Toronto Star article, were unaware that they were being
investigated. This is possible because under section 91 of the
ESA, employment standards officers are permitted to enter
the premises of any employer and conduct an investigation to
determine whether it may be in violation of the ESA.
Notice may only be required when records are requested.
While conducting an investigation, the officer may examine any
relevant records and question any person on issues that may be
relevant to the investigation. If an employer is in contravention
of the ESA they will be fined between $250 and $1000 per
violation. The amount increases for each subsequent violation. More
importantly, for any violation of the ESA except for
specific provisions on record keeping, the fine amount is
multiplied by the number of employees who are affected by the
In targeted inspections from the Ministry in the last two years,
top five types of violations of the ESA were public
holiday pay, record keeping, overtime pay, vacation pay, and
excessive hours of work. Sometimes the rules on these issues under
the ESA can get complicated. A little advice on compliance
can go a long way, especially when the inspector comes knocking.
Lastly, make sure all employees are aware that when the inspector
does come knocking, it's essential to let the internal legal
and HR teams know!
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