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Ministry of Labour inspections

Ministry of Labour inspections

The Ministry of Labour (MOL or the Ministry) has been busy implementing its Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces Strategy. Introduced by the previous Wynne government, the initiative has focused on small Ontario industrial businesses. A small business is one with fewer than 50 workers. 

Occupational Health and Safety Act Inspections

In late August, the Ministry published a report on the results of the inspection initiative. During the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, the Ministry of Labour visited 3,942 small business workplaces and issued 13,907 orders and requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). They also issued 184 stop-work orders. 

MOL inspectors will look into how employers are complying with OHSA including:

  • A health and safety policy and a program to implement the policy
  • Workplace violence and harassment policies and programs
  • Health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee
  • Complying with posting requirements (for example, OHSA, Health and Safety at Work poster)

Inspectors will also check up on what steps employers are taking to protect workers by taking suitable action to identify and control hazards.

Under OHSA, while employers must comply with specific regulations and requirements, they also have a duty to meet the often higher standards of taking all reasonable precautions to protect their workers. 

Employment Standards Act violations

The MOL also has the power to enforce the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and can even conduct inspections covertly. From April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, 22,434 ESA claims were investigated, an increase of 7,500 over the previous fiscal year. The top five violations found during the 2018/2019 investigations were:

  • Payment of wages
  • Vacation pay/vacation time
  • Termination pay
  • Public holiday pay
  • Overtime pay

Takeaways

Compliance with the law can seem onerous, especially for small employers who often take more of a casual approach with their workers. However, not complying with the law can cost a small business big bucks in terms of fines or various other orders that require spending money. In some instances, violations of OHSA can even lead to jail time. The minimum standards set by OHSA and the ESA exist to ensure fair and safe working conditions. Employers, disregard them at your peril!

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Lisa Stam, Spring Law

Founder of Spring Law, Employment and Labour Lawyer at Spring Law
Lisa Stam is founder of Spring Law, a virtual law firm advising exclusively on workplace legal issues for employers and executives. She practices all aspects of employment, labour, privacy, and human rights law, with a particular interest in legal issues arising from technology in the workplace. Lisa’s practice includes a wide range of entrepreneurs in the tech space, as well as global companies with smaller operations in Canada. In addition to the day to day workplace issues from hiring to firing, Lisa frequently blogs and speaks on both the impact, risks and opportunities of social media and technology issues in (and out of) the workplace, as well as the novel ways in which changing expectations of privacy continues to evolve employment law. Read more here.
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