Payment of Wages

If you work in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards that an employer is required to follow. If it doesn’t, you can file a claim with the Ministry of Labour. If you are still working for the company, you can file a claim with a request that your name should not be disclosed. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights.
 
The employer is required to establish a regular pay period and a regular payday. It must pay all wages earned for that period on that day. It may or may not include vacation pay. There are special rules for payment of vacation pay. The wages can be paid by cash, cheque or by direct deposit into employee’s account at his/her financial institution.
 
When the employment relationship ends, the employer must pay all outstanding wages including vacation pay on the next payday or seven days whichever occurs first.
 
The employer must give wage statement on or before payday giving the following details:
 
            .           The pay period for which wages are being paid;
            .           The wage rate, if there is one;
            .           The gross amount of wages;
            .           The amount and purpose of each deduction;
            .           Any amount paid for room or board
            .           The net amount
 
The statement must be in writing or by e-mail, if the employee is able to print the statement.
 
The employer is required to provide vacation statement at least once a year but the employee can also request such a statement and the employer must provide this information within seven days. If the employee agrees to the payment of vacation pay as it earned, the employer does not have to give the statement but still required to keep the information. It must be shown separately on the wage statement.
 
The employer is permitted to make only the following deductions from the wages:
 
.           Statutory deductions, such as, Income Taxes, Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan;
.           Court orders, the court may make a special order to deduct specific amount from wages;
.           Written authorization, the employee may agree in writing to let the employer deduct specific amount from his wages or provide a method of calculating the specific amount.
 
A verbal statement from the employee that he owes money to the employer is not sufficient for the employer to deduct or even a written statement from the employee without a specific amount or the method of calculating the specific amount allow the employer to make deductions.
 
In spite of written authorization, the employer is not permitted to deduct any amount from his/her wages for faulty work, for example, a mistake in credit card transaction, a work that is spoiled or rejected or a situation where tools are broken or company vehicle damaged or cash shortage or property lost or stolen if he/she did not have sole access and total control over cash or property that is lost or stolen. A deduction can only be made if the employee was the only person who had access to the cash or property and provides written authorization to make the deduction.
 
There may come a time when you or the employer disagree with the officer’s decision, in that case, both parties have a right to appeal the officer’s decision to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days. It does not cost you money to request an appeal but the employer may be required to pay money to the Ministry if it is found to be owing. The Ministry distributes the money according to the referee decisions. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
 
In the past the Ministry defended the officer’s decision at the Board’s hearing, however, it is rarely done now. At the present time, under most situations, the Ministry takes no stand and lets the employer and the employee deal with the issues themselves before the Board. It places the employee in a difficult situation because the employer has more resources than the employee and the Ministry’s intervention on behalf of the employee used to negate that advantage of the employer.
 
It is important that you must attend any hearing called to deal with your claim. If you fail to do so but the employer attends, you not only lose the chance to submit evidence to support your position but also miss a chance to challenge employer’s evidence. The officer or the referee may accept the employer’s evidence and make the decision on that basis. 
 
This information is provided for guidance 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.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at esaconsulting@hotmail.com

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.     

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