BC Employment Standards Coalition: Elimination of Self-Help Kit does not go far enough for advocates

Posted on

Press Release by the BC Employment Standards Coalition

The BC Employment Standards Coalition welcomes Minister of Labour Harry Bains’ recent announcement that the universally criticized ‘self-help kit’ step required by the Employment Standards Branch for the filing of an employment standards complaint has been eliminated. The self-help kit was introduced by the previous Liberal government in an attempt to discourage workers from filing complaints against their employers for violations, under that process workers had first to take up their complaints with their employers before the Branch would accept a complaint.

As stated in the Minister’s news release, the BC Employment Standards Coalition has 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. Many other workers reported that they did not initiate complaints of employment standards violations because they were intimidated by the self-help kit requirement.

However, the BC Employment Standards Coalition states that elimination of the self-help kit process addresses only one of several changes needed in the way in which the Employment Standards Branch operates so as to make it a worker friendly public institution that takes seriously its responsibility to proactively enforce the Employment Standards Act.

According to the Coalition a proactive enforcement regime should include employer and sectoral audits and unannounced inspections, especially in industries and sectors notorious for violating the Act, conducting payroll audits of employers when valid complaints have been received, eliminating the forced/compulsory mediation process, providing translation services to workers participating in mediation and adjudication procedures, establishing workers advisory offices that can provide legal assistance to complaining workers, restoring ESB offices in remote areas and relocating the Lower Mainland office to a central location near public transit, and introducing a reverse onus so that employers have to disprove a complaint against them.

Furthermore, the Coalition charges that the Director of the Employment Standards Branch is failing to carry out his responsibility to proactively enforce the Employment Standards Act and to provide a worker friendly complaints handling process with adequate support to workers who want to pursue their rights.


For more information or to arrange an interview with a worker who has had negative ESB complaint filing experiences please contact:

David Fairey                               604.430.6036