The Ontario Ministry of Labour has posted a video it calls, “What to Expect During an Employment Standards Inspection”. The video, which is just over 5 minutes long, depicts a friendly and orderly process in which the employer is given ten days of advance notice of the inspection and has an opportunity to ask the Employment Standards Officer questions about what its obligations are under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). The video states that such inspections are typically prompted by third party information or local intelligence received by the Ministry of Labour or are simply random site visits. The video does not explicitly state that inspections can be initiated in connection with employee complaints but perhaps that is what is meant by “local intelligence”.
Employers may wish to watch the video just to get a sense of how the Ministry thinks investigations should be conducted and for the Ministry’s list of the most common areas of review. However, if you are lucky enough to get advance notice of an inspection we strongly recommend calling your legal counsel to discuss the potential issues that may be reviewed. The ESA gives Employment Standards Officers the power to make orders without a hearing and, as the video notes, they can order compliance or recommend fines and charges on the basis of the site inspection alone. We also caution employers against taking the Ministry up on its offer to use the inspection as an opportunity to ask the Officer questions about your obligations under the ESA; it may simply provide the Employment Standards Officer with a roadmap for his or her inspection.
We have provided a link to the video below. If you have any questions about the Ministry’s inspection and investigation powers or if you would like more information about the ESA’s new Self-Audit obligations, you can reach out to a member of your Cassels Brock employment law group at any time.