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 well:

  • 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 violations:
    • Public holiday pay
    • Overtime pay
    • Vacation pay
  • Most common non-monetary violations:
    • Hours of work – excess daily/weekly hours
    • Vacation pay – written agreements
    • Record-keeping

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 liability.