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Health and Safety Complaints

If a worker thinks that their employer is not complying with health and safety laws they can make a complaint to Occupational Health and Safety.

You cannot make a complaint to the Occupational Health and Safety division if you decide to leave your job. The protections under these laws can help you stay in your job safely but staying may not always be right for you. If you decide to leave your job you may have other options under human rights or criminal law.

You can file a complaint with the Harassment and Discriminatory Action Prevention Unit of Occupational Health and Safety if you have reported harassment to your employer and your employer…

  • has failed to perform their duties under occupational health and safety laws regarding harassment such as taking corrective action or
  • has retaliated against you for making a report about harassment

A complaint cannot be anonymous but Occupational Health and Safety will maintain confidentiality as much as possible.

After speaking with you they will determine if an investigation is warranted. If it is hey will send you a questionnaire to complete about your situation. If Occupational Health and Safety is not going investigate they will notify you. If, after the investigation, they determine there has been a violation of occupational health and safety laws your employer can be ordered to do things such as…

  • create a Harassment Prevention Policy if they do not have one
  • investigate the incident if it has not been investigated or has not been investigated properly
  • ensure no further harassment takes place
  • reinstate you and compensate you for lost wages if you were wrongfully terminated because you made a complaint

It is important to remember that, except in cases when you were terminated for making a complaint, Occupational Health and Safety cannot order an employer or anyone else to pay you monetary compensation because you have been harassed at work. There may be other ways to pursue compensation. If you are eligible for Workers' Compensation you can be reimbursed for medical costs and provided with paid time off work to recover. A human rights complaint could also result in you receiving monetary compensation, depending on the situation.

Federally regulated employees can make a complaint to the Labour Program if their employer has not complied with the Canada Labour Code or the Workplace Harassment or Violence Prevention Regulations. A complaint must be about the employer contravening the Canada Labour Code or its Regulations. It cannot be used instead of the Notice of Occurrence process. It cannot be used to challenge the findings or recommendations of the person who investigated the occurrence.

If the complaint is about an employer disciplining or firing an employee for making a complaint about harassment or violence it goes to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

For example, an employee can make:

  • A complaint that their employer failed to follow the procedure required when a Notice of Occurrence is filed.
  • A complaint about failure to develop a Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy.
  • A complaint about not providing the required training

This involves the following steps:

  • You notify your supervisor, or person designated in your Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy, that your employer has failed to comply with the Canada Labour Code or its Regulations.
  • You and your supervisor, or person designated in your Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy, must try to resolve the complaint as soon as possible.
  • If the complaint is not resolved you can submit a complaint to the Labour Program.

There will be an investigation unless it is determined that the issue has been adequately dealt with under the Canada Labour Code, Workplace Harassment or Violence Prevention Regulations, the Canadian Human Rights Act or a collective agreement. The Labour Program can also decline to investigate if they think the complaint is an unjustified or unreasonable use of the process.

After the investigation the Labour Program can...

  • recommend that the employee and employer resolve the matter between themselves
  • direct the employer or employee concerned, or both, to stop any behaviour that violates the Canada Labour Code or the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations

Appeals

Anyone directly affected by the decision of an Occupational Health Officer can appeal the decision. This must be done in writing within 15 days of being notified of the decision. The Notice of Appeal must include the...

  • names of all people directly affected by the decision
  • decision that is being appealed
  • grounds for the appeal
  • remedy requested

Appeals are heard by adjudicators appointed by the Government for this purpose. A date is set for a hearing with input from the Adjudicator and the parties. Notice of the hearing is served on everyone directly affected by the decision being appealed. Hearings can be informal and Adjudicators can admit evidence that would not be allowed in a court of law. At the end of the hearing the Adjudicator can dismiss the appeal or change the decision.

An Adjudicator's decision can be appealed to the Labour Relations Board but only if the Adjudicator made an error concerning the law.

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This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.

The Shift Project is funded by the Department of Justice and delivered by the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).

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