On May 2, 2016, the Ministry of Labour (the “Ministry”) will begin several province-wide workplace inspection blitzes focusing on compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). The blitzes will concentrate on young workers and temporary foreign workers, mainly in the food service, retail trade and construction sectors. Employment Standards Officers will be looking for compliance with the core standards of the ESA including wage statements, unauthorized deductions, record keeping, hours of work, eating periods, overtime pay, minimum wage, public holidays and vacation pay. In a blitz conducted by the Ministry from May to July 2015, 76% of the workplaces inspected were not compliant with the ESA. The most common violations were in respect of public holiday pay, overtime pay and vacation pay.
Later in May, the Ministry will also be targeting construction, industrial and mining organizations with respect to fall protections and fall hazards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”). In previous inspections targeting fall hazards in the construction industry, the most common violations included: failing to use personal protective equipment; failing to erect guardrails; and failing to use other forms of fall protection when guardrails were not possible. In previous inspections targeting the industrial sector, the most common violations included: failing to keep floors and other surfaces free of hazards and accumulation of refuse, snow and ice; failing to maintain equipment, materials and personal protective equipment in good condition; and failing to provide health and safety training to workers and supervisors.
Employers should ensure that their workplaces are in compliance with obligations under the ESA and the OHSA at all times. Extra care should be taken if your organization is likely to be subject to an inspection from the Ministry. Failure to comply with the requirements under the ESA and the OHSA can be costly and may even result in disruption to business continuation if a stop-work order is issued.