Work Refusal

Last Updated: December 16, 2017

Definition - What does Work Refusal mean?

Work refusal is a voluntary act made by an employee to cease all duties and tasks related to a job considered unsafe to their physical welfare. An employee can exercise their refusal to work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act following immediate notice to a supervisor. A work refusal gives the employee latitude to invoke their rights on reasonable grounds that a job is unsafe without evidence to support their claim.

WorkplaceTesting explains Work Refusal

Supervisors are obligated to complete a work refusal form, specifying reasons that either justify or deny claims made by the employee about existing safety hazards. An investigation is conducted by the employer, a certified safety member, an available trade union representative, and the worker to identify dangerous circumstances.

While work refusal is a prerogative for individuals who believe their safety is in jeopardy, this right is limited to certain professions. For instance, law enforcement, firefighting, correctional facilities, and healthcare institutions have constraining power to limit work refusal since it would interfere with their jobs to help and protect others.

Work refusal is a thorough and sometimes long process if findings between the first investigator of the worker conflicts with reports made by a second investigator of the employer. The employee is assigned to a different position retaining all their rights including fair compensation and reinstatement to their normal job once a Labor Relations Board inspector gives final approval.

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