Excessive Hours of Work Could be Safety Issue: OLRB

Working excessive hours could pose a safety issue, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has held in refusing to dismiss a complaint that the employee was fired in retaliation for raising safety issues.

Section 50 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act protects employees against retaliation for raising safety concerns.

Interestingly, the complaint was filed by a former manager with the Public Services Health and Safety Association, a “safe workplace association” designated by the Minister of Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He claimed that the employer dismissed him in retaliation for him raising certain concerns, which he characterized as safety issues.

The employer asked the OLRB to dismiss the employee’s complaint, arguing that the issues that he had raised before his dismissal were not safety issues. The OLRB, however, decided that excessive hours of work could possibly raise a safety issue, so that part of the complaint could proceed.

The OLRB did, however, dismiss the employee’s allegations that the employee’s pre-dismissal complaint that other staff had been treated negatively and that the employer had interfered with the pay equity process, raised safety issues.

Watkins v. The Health and Safety Association for Government Services, 2013 CanLII 57037 (ON LRB)

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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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