Recently, Brampton-based employer Peter David Sinisa Sesek was handed a jail sentence that is rarely seen, The Star reports.
Sesek was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine for failing to comply with an order to pay employees, something that rarely happens in Canada. Back in 2015, Sesek had received an order to pay 43 employees a total sum of $140,000 as a result of unpaid wages. The individual claims range from just under a thousand dollars, to $12,000. Sesek operated two businesses, both of which have since shut down.
While this was a rare judgement, it is still important to take note of it. This case shows that employers who do not pay their employees can find themselves in serious trouble.
Employees need to know that if they are not compensated, they are entitled to take legal action in order to get their rightfully earned compensation. Employers need to know that they are not going to be able to get away with not giving hired employees the pay they have earned for the work they have performed.
Employment Standards and the legal system is set up to put a halt to employers’ attempts to get away with withholding wages from an employee, or in Sesek’s case, 43 of them.
Current employers should look to this case to learn what not to do. It should serve as a concrete reminder that, as an employer, you must pay your employees what they are owed and meet the requirements of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) at a bare minimum. Employers who contravene the ESA could face prosecution and orders to pay a fine and/or imprisonment.
A 2012 case, R. v. Blondin, 2012 ONCJ 826, is another example of an Employment Standards contravention. Steven Blondin, director of 6 Ontario-based companies was found guilty of not paying employees, as originally reported by The Star. Blondin was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and ordered to pay fines of $280,000. The Court found Blondin guilty of owing wages to 61 employees.
The current proposed changes to the ESA outlined in Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 include providing employment standards officers much greater discretion and flexibility when dealing with these situations. The government has also pledged to hire an additional 175 employment standards officers to enforce the ESA.
Blondin and Sesek both failed to comply with orders to pay, Blondin for $125,000, and Sesek for $140,000. Both were found guilty on all counts, received large fines, and received jail time. This was all a result of failing to comply with one of the most straightforward practices of business: paying those who do work for you. To learn more about your minimum obligations as an employer, you can always review the ESA, or contact us at Rodney Employment Law.