Employment Standards and WorkSafe Laws

The great majority of workplaces in British Columbia are subject to inspection and oversight under both the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), which governs wages and other basic working conditions, and its Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR), as enforced by WorkSafe BC, also known as the Workers’ Compensation Board of BC. 

Between them, the ESA and WorkSafe laws lay down a comprehensive set of rules governing the overall treatment of workers, including adherence to policies and practices that protect their labour rights, reduce or eliminate workplace hazards to their health, safety, and wellbeing, and provide for compensation, treatment, and/or other forms of support in the event of job-related injuries or illnesses.    

Despite these laws, even the best-intentioned of employers can fail to maintain compliance due to the complexity of the rules, jurisdictional confusion, lack of awareness, poor communication, failure to cooperate, or some combination thereof. The ESA, for example, sets standards for how much employees must be paid, how many hours they can be asked to work, time off, notice, severance, and other issues – but special rules apply to several industries, including agriculture, high tech, and taxis, and to some types of workers, such as as young people, domestics, and farm workers. Likewise, the OSHR applies uniformly to the majority of workplaces in BC, but not to mines, banks, interprovincial and international transportation, telephone systems, and radio, TV, or cable services, where federal statutes take precedence.

In all of these cases, it is the responsibility of employers to be aware of their responsibilities. Even in the case of exceptions, ignorance is not a valid excuse, and the consequences of repeated violations or even a single serious incident can result in significant reputational damage, severe financial costs, loss or suspension of necessary licenses or permits, and even the end of an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

For all of these reasons, an ounce of prevention can be worth countless pounds of cure, and Kent’s specialized employment lawyers are well-versed in making sure that employers follow any and all applicable workplace regulations.

Not sure if your workplace meets all the requirements under Employment Standards or WorkSafe laws? Contact us!


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