An easier, more accessible complaint process is now in place for workers who have concerns about their employment rights, with the elimination of the Employment Standards Branch’s “self-help kit.”
“I couldn’t be happier to officially say goodbye to the self-help kit,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “For too long, the process has created a barrier for workers who have concerns about whether they are being paid or treated appropriately. Eliminating this as a required first step to filing a complaint with Employment Standards Branch will help ensure that workers can easily access help when they feel their rights have been violated.”
In May 2019, government passed legislation that would remove the requirement for workers to first use a self-help kit — where they had to deal directly with their employer — before filing a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch. The more accessible and streamlined direct-to-branch process is now in place, alongside an improved website and multi-lingual services.
“We’ve heard story after story of people who attempted to use the self-help kit to solve a dispute with an employer, only to have their employment terminated,” said David Fairey, co-chair of the BC Employment Standards Coalition. “We are pleased that government has acted to eliminate this barrier for workers’ access to justice as a start to making the branch more worker-friendly. We look forward to government making other significant changes to operations, so the branch can effectively and proactively carry out its enforcement mandate.”
The Employment Standards Branch helps workers and employers understand B.C.’s employment laws and to ensure those laws are followed. The branch is hiring additional staff to significantly increase capacity and improve services, and focus more on proactive compliance activities, like employer audits and investigations.
People can also get information about workers’ rights and employers’ obligations in more than 130 languages through a multi-lingual phone line, as well as through forms and educational materials in multiple languages.
“We are working to make our information and resources more accessible to all clients,” Bains said. “If you’re a worker or employer in B.C., no matter what language you speak or what your communication needs are, the Employment Standards Branch is available to answer your questions and hear your concerns. If you have questions, please reach out for help.”
Improving fairness in B.C. workplaces is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
To learn about employment standards, call the Employment Standards Branch at 1 800 663-3316 or visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards
To access real-time information about employment standards in more than 130 languages, call toll-free: 1 833 236-3700
For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Punjabi_NR_ESB_Changes_Aug_23_2019.pdf
For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2019_NR_ESB%20Changes-Aug23_TCH_final.pdf