Employment standards officers can issue $300 tickets to employers

Tickets can be issued in Ontario for violations such as failing to pay wages or give vacation time
By
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 12/02/2004

The Ontario government is giving employment standards officers the authority to issue tickets carrying fines of $300 to employers.

Under the Provincial Offences Act, employment standards officers who have been appointed as provincial offences officers can issue tickets to employers who fail to comply with the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

If issued a ticket, an employer can choose to pay the fine or appear in provincial court to dispute the offence. Ontario’s Ministry of Labour can also take other action against the employer to ensure compliance with the act.

What can tickets be issued for?

Tickets can be issued for a wide range of violations of the Employment Standards Act including:

•failing to pay an employee’s wages;

•failing to retain records;

•failing to give vacation time; and

•requiring employees to work hours in excess of the daily or weekly limits.

“Our government is committed to more rigorous enforcement of employment standards,” said Labour Minister Chris Bentley. “Tickets will deter employers from taking advantage of vulnerable workers and will level the playing field for the majority who comply with the law.”

As part of the government’s increased enforcement of the Employment Standards Act this year, a series of 2,000 inspections and follow-up visits in sectors with high rates of non-compliance is already underway.

“We must ensure the fair treatment of vulnerable employees, and ticketing will help us accomplish that goal,” said Bentley.

Ministry of Labour background information

The following “backgrounder” was posted by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

What is ticketing?

Ticketing is an enforcement tool that authorizes employment standards officers who have been appointed as provincial offences officers to issue tickets under the Provincial Offences Act (POA) for certain violations of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Regulation 950 of the POA was amended to allow for ticketing for ESA offences.

Generally, tickets will be issued for less serious ESA violations, those that do not raise complex factual or legal issues. Tickets will be issued to the employer responsible for the offence. The ability to ticket adds to the government’s existing ESA prosecution approach.

Tickets may be issued as a result of proactive inspections or after investigation of an employee complaint. If issued a ticket, an employer can choose to pay the fine or appear in a provincial court to dispute the offence. The Ministry of Labour can also take other action against the employer to ensure compliance with the ESA.

Issuing tickets for offences under the ESA forms an important part of the Ministry of Labour’s prosecution approach to deter employers from violating the provisions of the ESA, and helps level the playing field for those who obey the law. Also, as part of the government's increased enforcement of the ESA this year, a series of 2,000 inspections and follow up visits in sectors with high rates of non-compliance is already underway.

Types of offences

Ticketable offences fall into three categories:

•Administrative and enforcement offences (e.g. failure to retain records).

•Contraventions of wage-based employment standards (e.g. failure to pay overtime pay).

•Contraventions of non wage-based employment standards (e.g. requiring employees to work hours in excess of daily or weekly limits).

Fines

Authority for ticketing came into effect July 1, 2004. The tickets carry set fines of $300, with a victim fine surcharge added to each set fine. Fines are set by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. Money collected from the fines will go to the municipality in which the offence took place, while the victim fine surcharge will go into the provincial Victims’ Justice Fund account.

For a complete listing of fines, please visit the Ontario Court of Justice Web site at

www.ontariocourts.on.ca/ocj.htm

.

Employer options

An employer has three options if issued a ticket. The employer can:

•Plead guilty by signing the guilty plea on the ticket and paying the set fine at the court office specified on the ticket.

•Plead guilty and make submissions respecting the fine by appearing before a provincial judge or justice of the peace. The provincial judge or justice may impose the set fine or reduce it.

•Plead not guilty by giving notice of intention to appear in court and requesting a trial.

Other enforcement tools

In addition to issuing tickets, employment standards officers have a number of options to ensure compliance with the ESA, including:

•requesting voluntary compliance from the employer; and

•issuing an order to pay wages, an order to comply, an order to compensate, an order to reinstate and/or a notice of contravention.

The ability of an officer to issue a ticket does not preclude the use of more serious prosecution procedures available under the Provincial Offences Act.

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