From May 1 to July 31, 2015, employment standards officers from the Ministry of Labour (the “Ministry”) conducted a blitz focused on new, young and vulnerable workers engaged in “precarious employment”. Precarious employment is defined by the Ministry as work that is seasonal, part-time or temporary.

During the course of this blitz, the Ministry visited 304 workplaces, including amusement and recreation industries, building services, and investigation and security services. The focus of the blitz was on the following core standards set out in the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”):

  • record keeping;
  • hours of work;
  • overtime pay;
  • minimum wage; and
  • public holidays.

Of the 304 workplaces inspected by the Ministry, 232 employers were not compliant with the ESA – an extraordinarily bad record of compliance. The most common monetary violations of the ESA were in respect of public holiday pay, overtime pay and vacation pay. The most common non-monetary violations were in respect of hours of work and record-keeping.

The Ministry has reported a voluntary compliance rate of 96% for all employers that were issued compliance orders, notices of contravention, offence notices or orders to pay wages during the course of the blitz.

The majority of ESA contraventions are a result of employers’ lack of knowledge about their legal obligations rather than any intentional effort to contravene the law. In other words, employers are prepared to comply with the law, but do not always understand it.

Ontario’s employment standards legislation is complex, and many employers will require the assistance of a lawyer to ensure that their employment practices are in compliance with the ESA and other labour legislation.