Last year's Ontario Ministry of Labour ("MOL")
compliance blitz reveals that employers are having difficulty
maintaining basic employment standards. From May 1 to July 31,
2015, the MOL conducted a series of workplace inspections which
focused on compliance with core elements of the Ontario
Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA"). The
inspections targeted mainly sectors that employ "vulnerable or
precarious workers" where the nature of employment is
seasonal, part-time or temporary. The results do not trend
Of the 304 workplace inspections
conducted by the Ministry, 232 (or 76%) employers were found not
compliant with the ESA.
Over $361,000 was recovered for
employees through compliance orders issued by Employment Standards
Officers. This is in addition to whatever fines/penalties were
issued to the employers.
Most common monetary
Public holiday pay
Most common non-monetary
Hours of work – excess
Vacation pay – written
Most of the offending employers probably did not intentionally
contravene the law. More likely they were simply caught unaware.
They assumed that someone in their organization was keeping track
of the latest legislative amendments or that their existing
policies and practices met the basic standards. Unfortunately for
the majority of the employers audited, they assumed wrongly.
The results of this latest blitz, coupled with new ESA
self-audit requirements which we have previously written about here, highlight the importance of taking a
proactive approach towards compliance with core standards.
Anticipating and preparing for the eventuality that you will be
inspected by the MOL or sent a self-audit to complete is a good
start to mitigate your organization's future risk and
At McCarthy Tétrault, we have developed an HR Compliance & Risk Management Diagnostic
tool that helps employers achieve compliance with employment
regulations. It can help reduce the risk of individual employee
claims and multi-employee class actions, and mitigate reputational
damage caused by embarrassing litigation. We see it as an
invaluable tool to help employers navigate increasingly complex
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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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.
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