The role of an Employment Standards Officer is to conduct inspections and investigations.
Sandie Baillargeon Posted on July 4th, 2018

Employment Standards Officers travel all over the province to inspect workplaces.

These inspections make sure employers are complying with their responsibilities under the Provincial Employment Standards Act. Officers focus on standards such as:

Posting the Employment Standards poster in the workplace and distributing it to employees,

Timely, accurate Wage Statements…

With no unauthorized deductions,

Accurate Record Keeping,

Proper Hours of Work and

Eating Periods,

Accurate Overtime Pay,

Adherence to Minimum Wage,

Public Holidays,

And Vacation Pay standards

And restricting Temporary Help Agencies from charging fees to employees.

The inspectors will typically give an employer 10 days written notice when that inspection will take place.

This gives the employer an opportunity to make their records available.

It also gives the Ministry of Labour time to do their preparation. We check the legal name of the business, whether it is still active, and they will look at their claims and inspections history, and we will also check to see if the workplace is unionized.

They generally don’t conduct inspections in unionized workplaces. They have their own dispute resolution process to follow.

The inspectors will supply written notification of the inspection to the employer along with web-links to review their responsibilities. The notification also provides the officer’s contact information for any questions about the inspection.

Workplaces are selected through a variety of methods. These may include:
Third party information,
Local intelligence, or
Random selection as part of a sector-specific enforcement blitz.

In some cases they may also re-inspect a workplace to ensure that past violations have been corrected.

During an inspection the Employment Standards Officer will take a look at a number of records which may include: schedules, time sheets, payroll ledgers and wage statements. The notice that we send out to employers also indicates important information about the Employment Standards poster.

The procedure is that they arrive at the workplace and meet the employer or their authorized representative.

They review a variety of documents that relate to the Employment Standards Act. Beginning with an employer interview to determine compliance with the ESA.

They also take time to answer any questions an employer may have about their responsibilities.

During the inspection, they will ask the employer to show me where in the workplace they have posted the Employment Standards poster to make sure the poster is correct and it’s in a conspicuous place for the employees to see.

The inspector will also interview employees selected at random.

If the inspector has reason to believe that there is not going to be adequate privacy to properly interview employees, he/she will make that known to the employer and let the employer know that they require a place that is comfortable, and that is isolated from the rest of the workforce or work environment.

During the inspection some documents are going to be required from the employer to
prove the various standards are being complied with.

The inspector will then use the documents provided by the employer to perform a test audit.

The test audit involves the selection and review of payroll and other records. They randomly select employees to determine that at least the minimum standards are being met.

When the test audit is finished, if they find there is compliance with all standards that were inspected, they will then issue an inspection report which outlines the steps that they took and the findings they have made. The file is then closed.

If problems are found at the inspection

If it’s been found that an employer has contravened the Employment Standards Act, a full-audit or self-audit may be conducted for a set period of time.

If it is determined that the employer has contravened the ESA they may take enforcement actions such as: issuing a ticket, issuing a Notice of Contravention or in some cases recommending a Part Three prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act.

When the audit is completed, the employer is asked to voluntarily comply and correct any of the issues that were identified during the inspection.

If wages are owed to employees they will ask the employer to pay those wages.

If the employer does not comply voluntarily, they will issue an order to pay for the amounts that are outstanding.

When the inspection is completed, the officer will provide the employer with an inspection report which is required to be posted.

And the employer is asked to complete a Notification of Compliance indicating the dates upon which compliance has been achieved.

When the notification of compliance form is returned to the officer the inspection is closed; however, the employer can be identified for a re-inspection at a later date to still ensure compliance.

Author: Sandie Baillargeon


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