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What to do when the MOL comes calling

MOLI often get calls from employers who are the subject of a Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) inspection.

Sometimes the employer is a target of one of the MOL’s pro-active enforcement blitzes. For information on the MOL’s 2017-2018 blitzes, click here.

Also, sometimes an employee has called the MOL and lodged a complaint, and an investigator has been assigned to investigate the complaint.

Why are the number of MOL orders increasing?

Several new obligations have been imposed on employers in the last couple of years and, in my experience, the MOL inspectors usually confirm whether or not an employer is in compliance with these new obligations, regardless of the reason for the visit to the workplace.

For information on some of these new obligations click here and here.

The results of a recent MOL investigation

This blog discusses a group of orders that a MOL inspector recently imposed on a small employer after an employee complained that she had been harassed at work.

Ironically, even though the employer had complied with the law that was the subject matter of the complaint, the MOL issued several orders against the employer for infractions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) including the following:

  • The employer had not posted a copy of OHSA in the workplace
  • The employer did not have a health and safety representative selected by the workers
  • A health & safety representative had not inspected the physical condition of the workplace
  • The employer did not provide basic occupation health & safety training to employees
  • The employer did not have a health and safety policy posted in the workplace
  • The employer did not have a workplace violence policy posted in the workplace
  • The employer did not have a workplace harassment policy posted in the workplace
  • The employer did not institute best practices for simple but dangerous activities

I suspect that a MOL inspector would issue these orders against many Ontario small employers because  these employers are simply not aware of these obligations.

Penalties a MOL inspector can impose

A MOL inspector has broad powers. If the employer co-operates with the inspector and the violations are minor, the inspector may simply issue an order with a deadline for compliance.

For unco-operative employers, repeat offenders, or serious violations of the Ontario OHSA, the inspector can however issue a ticket with a fine of approximately $ 295, or charge the employer with offences under Part I (maximum fine of $ 1000 per offence) or Part III (maximum fine of $ 500 000 for third offence) of the Provincial Offences Act. For more information on a MOL inspector’s powers, click here.

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Doug MacLeod, MacLeod Law Firm

Employment and labour lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm
For the past 30 years, Doug MacLeod, founder of the MacLeod Law Firm, a Canadian labour and employment law firm, has been advising and representing employers in connection with employee terminations. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at Read more
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