The Employment Standards Act is the law that contains basic rules about employing people and working. Both employees and employers have rights and
responsibilities under the Act.
Does the Act cover all employees in Ontario?
Most employees are covered by the provincial legislation. However, employees working in industries that fall under Federal jurisdiction, such as, Post office, Banks, Railways, Radio stations, Airlines, Television stations etc. are not covered.
If you are currently employed with the company, you may be able to file a claim with a request that your name not be disclosed. The Act protects you when you are exercising your rights under it.
Section 12(1) of the Act states:
On or before an employee’s pay day, the employer shall give to the employee a written statement setting out,
. (a) the pay period for which wages are being paid;
the employee in some other manner, how that amount was calculated;
. (d) the amount and purpose of each deduction from wages;
. (e) any amount with respect to room or board that is deemed to have been
paid to the employee under subsection 23(2); and
. (f) the net amount of wages being paid to the employee.
This section requires that the employer must provide a written statement to the employee on his or her pay day detailing the time period for which wages are being paid, hourly rate if applicable; if not, what other method was used to calculate his or her wages, the gross amount for that period, details of deductions if made and the purpose of such deductions such as, CPP, EI etc.; if room or board is provided to the employee, the amount charged for room or board if it is included in the calculation of gross wages and finally the net amount being paid.
The employer is required to provide such a written statement on each pay day even if the information provided does not change or even if the employee is aware of some of information contained in the statement.
The employer is permitted to provide such a statement electronically if the employee is able to and knowledgeable to receive information in this fashion. If the employee works at a location different from the employer’s business; for example, the employee may have been sent to the client by the temporary help agency, the employer would have complied with the requirement of section 12 if the employee is provided with an access to the computer and printer at the client’s place of business.
Section 12(3) of the Act states:
The statement may be provided to the employee by electronic mail rather than in writing if the employee has access to a means of making a paper copy of the statement.
This section permits the employer to provide statement of wages by means other than written statement provided the employee has access to computer and printer at the work place so that he or she can make a copy of the information provided.
Under some circumstances, the employee may not be able to retrieve this information, if so; the employer must then provide a written statement as required under section 12.
If you or the employer disagrees with the investigating officer’s decision, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of the officer’s decision. The Board appoints a referee to hear the appeal. It does not cost the employee to request an appeal but the employer may be required to deposit monies in trust with the Ministry of Labour if it is found to be owing. The referee decision is final and binding on both parties.
In the past, the Ministry was very aggressive in defending the rights of an employee and would send a legal counsel to represent the employee at the Board’s hearing to deal with the matter. It rarely does so now. Obviously, the employer has advantage over the employee in these circumstances. The question arises, should the employee also engage the services of a professional? It is my view, employee’s may not engage such services at the officer’s level hearing but may do so at the at the referee level hearing, particularly, if the issues are complex.
It is important that if a hearing has been scheduled, the employee must attend such a hearing to present evidence to support its position or to contest the employer’s evidence, otherwise, the officer or the referee may rely on the evidence of the employer to render a decision.
This information is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as a legal advice.
This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.