The Ministry of Labour is proposing a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that would enable the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) and the Office of the Employer Adviser (OEA) to provide support for workers and small business involved in reprisal complaints. The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) and the ministry have mapped out a proposed process for expediting resolution of OHSA-related reprisals where the worker's employment has been terminated; including the role ministry inspectors will play in the proposed process. The purpose of the proposed regulation would be to provide, free of charge, non-unionized workers and small employers with educational information about reprisals as well as legal advice and representation in respect of reprisal complaints.
The proposed functions of the OWA would be to educate non-unionized workers about reprisals, advise non-unionized workers who believe that they may be the subject of a reprisal, and represent non-unionized workers who are making reprisal complaints or are the subject of referrals to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
The proposed functions of the OEA would be to educate, advise and represent employers with fewer than 50 unionized or non-unionized employees in respect of reprisals and referrals to the OLRB under section 50 of the OHSA. The OEA’s legal representation would be restricted to proceedings before the OLRB.
The proposed regulation is one element of a broader Ministry of Labour initiative to implement recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety, which conducted a comprehensive review of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system in 2010. The Panel’s report included a recommendation to speed up the process of resolving reprisal allegations, and a recommendation that workers and small employers involved in reprisal allegations should have access to educational information and legal support from independent third parties, such as the OWA and OEA.
The MOL is consulting on the proposed regulation. The public is invited to provide written comments during a 45-day period, beginning December 16, 2011 and ending on January 31, 2012. Written submissions received during the consultation period will be considered in the final preparation of the proposed regulation. Click here for more information and to find out how to submit feedback.