With the elimination of the Employment Standards Branch’s so-called “self-help kit,” the B.C. government is touting “an easier, more accessible complaint process” for workers who have concerns about their employment rights.
“I couldn’t be happier to officially say goodbye to the self-help kit,” Harry Bains, Minister of Labour and MLA for Surrey-Newton, said Wednesday (Aug. 28) in a pre-Labour Day announcement.
“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.”
Bains made the announcement during a news conference at Surrey’s Holland Park, where he’ll be a guest speaker Monday (Sept. 2) at a Labour Day picnic organized by New Westminster & District Labour Council.
Last May, the provincial government passed legislation to 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. A more “direct-to-branch” process is now in place, alongside a new 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,” David Fairey, co-chair of the BC Employment Standards Coalition, said in a release.
“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 aims to help 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,” according to the release.
The office offers help in more than 130 languages in various ways, including online, on the phone (1-800-663-3316) and in printed material.
“We are working to make our information and resources more accessible to all clients,” Bains stated. “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.”