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 must follow. If the employer does not follow, you can file a claim on line or submit in person at a Service Ontario Centre or mail to “The Provincial Claims Centre, Ministry of Labour, 70 foster Drive, Suite 480, Roberta Bondar Place, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, P6A 6V4. You can also fax it toll free to 1-888-252-4684. The form is available on line at www.ontario.ca/labour. If you are still working for the company, you may be able to request that your name should not be disclosed. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights.
You cannot file a claim with the Ministry of Labour if you are represented by a trade union and there is a collective agreement, which governs your employment relationship. It is assumed the collective agreement would contain all the provisions of the Act. The Ministry requires you to resolve your difficulties with the employer through grievance procedure. In many situations, you cannot file a claim, if you have started a court action against the employer for the same matter. The Ministry insists that you must choose either the court action or its offices for the same issues. However, you can file a claim with the Ministry as well as start a court action against the employer for different issues. As an example, you may file a claim with the Ministry for unpaid wages and start a court action for wrongful dismissal but not for termination or severance pay for the same employment. In some situations, you can do both, that is, file a claim and take court action, such as, pregnancy, parental, emergency, family medical leave or reprisal.
In filing a claim, you are required to identify standards that were violated, for example, overtime, public holiday pay etc. When did the violation take place? The estimated amount you are claiming. The employer’s name, full address and telephone numbers. Whether the employer is still in business. Whether the employer conducts business at other locations or uses other names.
The maximum amount that can be recovered under the Act is $10,000.00 with some exceptions. The exceptions being where the employer is required to give the job back to the dismissed employee. Such exceptions relate to where the employee has taken leaves of absence or the right of the employee not to be penalized when he/she exercises his/her rights under the Act or in the case of employee working in the retail sector to refuse to work on a public holiday.
Generally, an employee must file a claim within six months from the time money became due. The money becomes due on a normal payday or within seven days from the date of termination, whichever comes later. However, vacation pay can be recovered if the claim for vacation pay is filed within one year from the date of termination. Also, if the employer has violated the same entitlement more than once, the wages can be recovered for one year provided the violation has occurred within six month from the date of filing the claim.
In some situations, an employee may be able to file a claim within two years if no money is involved, that is, if the employee files a claim for improper meal breaks, wage statements, leaves of absence, lie detectors and retail business employee’s rights. The employee also has two year to file a claim if the employer has penalized or threatens to penalize when exercising rights under the Act.
If the employer has misled the employee regarding his/her rights under the Act and that resulted in delaying filing a claim, the Ministry in its discretion may extend the time to file a claim.
There are times when you or the employer may not agree with the officer’s decision, in that case, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days. It does not cost you to request an appeal but the employer may be required to keep the money in trust with the Ministry if it is found to be owing. The Ministry then distributes the money in accordance with the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
This information is only provided to guide you about your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 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 [email protected]
If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.
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