The Employment Standards Branch will hire more staff to resolve disputes between workers and employers, provide guidance on B.C.’s employment standards, and process employer registrations for temporary foreign workers.
Government is increasing the branch’s operating budget by nearly $12 million over three years to hire as many as 33 more full-time employees in response to the growing demand for its services.
“With the cost of living on the mind of many right now, when people are owed money from their employer, they expect the issue to be resolved urgently,” said Premier David Eby. “We want to ensure people receive what’s owed to them at work without delay. The investment to increase the capacity of the Employment Standards Branch means disputes will be addressed quickly and efficiently.”
Each year, the branch receives more than 100,000 requests for information in multiple languages and resolves thousands of disputes. The branch provides information and advice to employers and workers on employment standards and workers’ rights under the Employment Standards Act. It also investigates and resolves disputes brought forward by workers who believe they are owed wages.
“Everyone deserves fair working conditions and they need some place to turn to when they feel they have been treated unfairly,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “People often turn to the Employment Standards Branch during a dispute, like when they are owed wages. The Employment Standards Branch is a big part of our effort to build an economy that works for everyone.”
Over the past few years, demand for the services at the branch has risen steadily due to a growing workforce, employment issues related to the pandemic and a surge of employers seeking to register before hiring temporary foreign workers.
“Employees who turn to the Employment Standards Branch for help are usually the most vulnerable workers in B.C. They're often underpaid, exploited and mistreated, making them the least able to wait for long delays,” said Sussanne Skidmore, president, BC Federation of Labour. “This increased funding to the branch is an important start in clearing the queue of disputes, and ensuring workers can get the help they need as soon as possible.”
A backgrounder follows.