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Sandra Banister, QC, labour and employment law lawyer
Sandra Banister, QC

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BLOWING THE WHISTLE:  Complaints under the
Employment Standards Act





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If you feel your employer or former employer has breached the Employment Standards Act, what can you do? Complain to the director of employment standards. The director will consider complaints about

  • hiring employees
  • wages, special clothing and records
  • hours of work and overtime
  • statutory holidays
  • leaves and jury duty
  • annual vacation
  • termination of employment
  • particular regulations

You must write out your complaint and deliver it to the Employment Standards Branch within six months of your last day of employment. Or, in some circumstances, within six months of the date of contravention.

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The director must investigate the complaint, but he or she may refuse to do so or may postpone the investigation in certain circumstances. For example, if you miss the six month time limit, the complaint is not sufficiently important, or a related court proceeding has begun or been decided.

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After the director has finished investigating, he or she may make a determination. If there has been no contravention of the Act or regulations, he or she must dismiss the complaint. On the other hand, if the director decides that there has been a contravention, he or she may require the wrongdoer to comply with the statutory requirements, or to remedy or cease doing an act. The director may also impose a penalty.

If your employer influenced you to work by making false representations about the employment, or required you to work excessive hours or in detriment to your health or safety, the director may impose additional requirements.

Once a determination is made requiring payment of wages, you're entitled to start another proceeding to recover them only if the director has consented and the determination has been cancelled.

You are entitled under the Act not to be mistreated by the employer because of a complaint or investigation.

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If you wish to appeal a determination, you may appeal to the Employment Standards Tribunal. After an appeal is requested, the tribunal may dismiss the appeal, refer the matter back to the director of employment standards for further investigation, or recommend that an attempt be made to settle the matter.

The tribunal may conduct its proceedings in the manner it considers necessary, and may not hold an oral hearing. After considering the appeal, the tribunal may confirm, vary or cancel the determination, or refer the matter back to the director.

A decision or order of the tribunal is final and is not subject to further appeal in the courts.

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This page last updated: September 27, 1999
© copyright 1999 Lawyers-BC.Com Services Ltd.