Wage theft victims in Ontario lost $28 million due to poor enforcement
The tragedy of the wage theft issue is that an employee is at the mercy of an overburdened government bureaucracy which lacks the resources to recover wages after employers have been ordered to pay.
An employee has no option but to rely on Ministry of Labour enforcement officers to enforce the orders. As a result, many employers feel no obligation to comply knowing it will take months, even years (and perhaps never) before they make payment. The result? The employee is left holding the bag and the legislation leaves them with no options.
The Toronto Star has suggested that the government increase its random audits. Random audits are unrealistic as the government is understaffed and lacks the resources to enforce the current system without adding additional personnel.
Plus the Ministry of Labour, in truth, merely goes through the motions. It can’t realistically feel the urgency and pain of the often suffering employee.
The answer is to provide the employee with the option of using an independent legal professional to enforce the order to pay by amending the Employment Standards Act. The Act should allow independent representation for enforcement with the cost of the legal professional to be paid by the employer. This would minimise the burden on the government to collect. It would also empower the employee to take control of an issue, which affects them directly. An independent legal practitioner could directly seize assets, garnish bank accounts and accounts receivable. As a result, they would be more likely to recover amounts owing more quickly and efficiently.It would also alleviate the need for the government to add more people to undertake the audits the Star is suggesting thereby saving taxpayer dollars and bringing fairness to employees in the process.
The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of employment law familiar to employment lawyer, Shelley Brian Brown. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website or blog as such.