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How to File a Complaint Against an Employer in Ontario

There are a few matters at the workplace which require attention from persons outside of the company. Where there is an unsafe workplace, and injury, health risks, or a harassment concern is not correctly being addressed by the employer a complaint may be filed with the government of Ontario.

With only a few steps you can have your concern addressed and have the correct actions taken as directed by the rules and regulations of the province.

Before You File a Complaint in Ontario

Any concerns about harassment or workplace health and safety should first be addressed within the company. Take all concerns to your manager or supervisor first, voicing your concerns in a clear manner with as many details and dates as you can provide.

If your company has a human resources department with a designated workplace health and safety officer. They will be able to consult the laws and regulations, then legally they must launch an investigation into any incidents you have detailed and find ways to solve the concern.

If you feel your concerns are not being appropriately addressed, your company does not have a human resources department or a health and safety officer, you may file your complaint directly with Ontario Health and Safety.

What Happens After an Employee Files Complaint?

An OHSA inspector will respond to complaints by opening a file and attending the workplace to investigate the claims and the safety in the workplace.

Not all incidents of harassment will receive a full investigation. Upon arrival at the location staff may be interviewed, a full tour of the facility may be completed, they will contact the appropriate supervisors or representatives, and create a report containing their findings.

Unable to solve all concerns in the moment, the report will contain the results of their investigation, and further contraventions witnessed, the solutions that they have determined are required, and a time by which these must be implemented.

You may choose to make your complaint anonymously, however, any harassment complaints that are anonymous will limit the investigation to determine only if your employer is following the laws regarding the handling of harassment.

They can only determine if the investigations within the company are being completed as required and that other regulations around the investigations are being followed.

How To Make Your Complaint

There are multiple ways to create your report and submit it, either through a printed document, on your desktop computer, or through your mobile device.

After you have selected your preference for submission you will need to go to the website and download the PDF document. You can then save the document to your computer and then open the file and fill it in. This can be submitted online or you can call tel:+18772020008 and speak to a representative directly.

This system is suitable only for health, safety, and harassment complaints. For concerns such as pay, holidays, hours, and leave, it is necessary to complete the Employment Standards Claim Form.

Employment Standards

If your concern or complaint is concerning issues that involve the rate of pay or wages, the hours worked or holiday pay then it is reported through Employment Standards, or taken to your union representative.

There is a time limit within which these complaints are required to be filled to allow for a complete investigation, and any concerns that are over two years old may not be investigated.

This time period is also called the recovery period, as any wage concerns or payment issues may only be compensated if they occurred within the last two years.

Included in the ESA are the incorrect holiday pay or failing to pay the correct wage according to the employee contract or paying under minimum wage. It also covers the lack of providing employees with correct documentation of pay and wages necessary for tax filing and for their own information. Not allowing correct leave of absence or rest periods between shifts are also ESA concerns.

Under the Employment Standards umbrella, you will also find the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act that protects those who are working in Ontario through the foreign temporary worker program or while in the immigration process.

This protects the worker from recruiting fees, hiring costs, withholding a passport or other property belonging to the employee, and protect an employee from retribution for asking about or asserting their employment rights.

Also protected under this act is the Protecting Child Performers Act. Offering protection for entertainers who are under the age of majority in regards to the child, the child’s parents or guardians, and their employers.

Claims may not be filed under the ESA if a court has already addressed the complaint, a union and collective agreement are in place, the regulations begin broken are federal, or a complaint is being made under other codes or protections. Complaints can be filed online on this website and updates will be available through the claimant portal.

In Ontario, there are separate bodies that regulate employment and the laws and regulations around them. By filing your complaint regarding health and safety or harassment concerns through the OHSA or your wage and time off disputes through the ESA you can have assistance in resolving workplace concerns.

Each of these regulating bodies has online forms and submission or can be contacted by phone for help. Every workplace and employer must follow both sets of regulations to maintain healthy, safe, and fair employment situations, and full investigations will be conducted when the report is made that these regulations are not being maintained.

While there are no immediate results after a complaint is filed, there is most often an investigation to determine what laws or rules are being broken and the employer will be directed to correct the concerns in the ways that are set out.

A supervisor or manager should be approached first and given time to correct the concern, with a follow-up complaint to the ESA or the OHSA when required.

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