Complaint Hearings

Complaint hearings determine if an employer has properly paid wages

Attend a hearing

A Notice of Complaint Hearing is mailed to all parties – it includes:

  • The date and time of the hearing
  • Dial-in instructions or location (most hearings are held by conference call, some are in-person)
  • Information about providing documents and using witnesses

Parties are expected to attend. The hearing may proceed even if a party doesn't attend. The decision will be based on information in the complaint file and evidence presented by the party who does attend.

Request a change. Parties cannot request an in-person hearing, but they can ask to reschedule the hearing if they have a good reason. This is called a request for an adjournment.

Send a written request to the Employment Standards Branch that includes:

  • The reason for adjournment
  • Alternate available dates
  • Whether the other party consents to the change

The request must be received at least seven days before the scheduled hearing date. Be prepared to attend the hearing on the date that was originally scheduled, unless you receive a letter with a rescheduled day and time.

Prepare for a hearing

Submit and review documents. Send two copies of any documents you will use at the hearing to the Employment Standards Branch. Documents are forwarded to the other party involved. A Demand for Employer Records may require the employer to provide specific documents. They can be required to pay a penalty if they don't provide them.

Review all documents you receive from the Employment Standards Branch, including the Agreed Statement of Facts from the mediation session (if there was one).

Prepare your case. Write notes about points you want to make at the hearing. Make a list of questions you plan to ask your witnesses.

Make sure your representatives are qualified. If you plan to send someone to the hearing in your place, they must have personal knowledge of the issues being discussed and be able to provide evidence. If they provide information that they've only been told about, an adjudicator may choose to not admit it as evidence or may give it little weight.

Make sure your witnesses can participate. Send a list of witnesses and a brief summary of the relevant evidence they're expected to give to the Employment Standards Branch. It's best if your witnesses attend the hearing and provide evidence. Written statements from them might not be admitted as evidence or their testimony may be given less weight.

A pre-hearing conference may be scheduled. This meeting can be arranged before the hearing or at the start of a hearing to clarify issues, discuss how witnesses will be used or consider other information about procedures. Information about how to attend is included in the Notice of Complaint Hearing.

During the hearing

Only the adjudicator, employer, employee, and their representatives attend the entire hearing. The adjudicator is assigned by the Employment Standards Branch. Both parties can bring a translator, as long as they are not a witness or involved in the dispute. Witnesses only join the hearing when they're called on to give evidence. They do not hear the proceedings before or after.

The process is explained. At the beginning of the hearing, the adjudicator outlines what will happen, states which sections of the law are relevant, and reviews the details that both parties agree on.

Documents provided before the hearing are entered into evidence. An adjudicator can refuse any documents that are introduced for the first time at a hearing or grant an adjournment so that the other party can review the documents and prepare a response.

Both parties give evidence. The employee and employer will be asked to present evidence or call witnesses. Both parties will be given an opportunity to ask questions of each other's witnesses and respond to evidence or statements made by the other party. Evidence is given under oath.

Dealing with outstanding issues. The adjudicator may ask questions or raise relevant issues that have not yet been discussed. If there are outstanding issues not dealt with at the hearing, or new issues are raised, the adjudicator may:

  • Grant a short recess or an adjournment to address the issues
  • Request written submissions to base their decision on

The hearing is concluded. Once all of the evidence has been presented, the adjudicator will listen to closing arguments and then formally end the hearing.

After the hearing

The adjudicator may request more information. Both parties are not allowed to contact the adjudicator after the hearing. The adjudicator will not consider information if it has not been requested. All information shared after the hearing will be forwarded to the other party.

The adjudicator will issue a written decision. The decision, or determination, is a legally binding document – just like a court judgment. Both parties are mailed a copy of the determination. If the employer is found guilty of not following the law, the determination will include information about paying penalties.

A decision can be appealed. Either party can appeal a decision with the Employment Standards Tribunal.