Work Refusals

Workers in Ontario have the right to refuse unsafe work.  According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act,  a worker may refuse to work where the worker has reason to believe that the work, the physical conditions of the workplace, workplace violence, and/or if any machine/device/thing which is to be operated is likely to endanger themselves or another worker. A worker cannot be subject to any reprisal or threat of reprisal by an employer or supervisor for exercising their right to refuse work that they believe is unsafe.

It is highly recommended that your school health and safety representative and the local unit office be contacted before initiating a work refusal

Please call the office at (905) 574-6483 or email for guidance.

Stages of a Work Refusal

Teachers and Refusing Work - Regulation 857

The following conditions and limitations apply to the application of the Act to teachers:

What this means...

No Reprisals

The Occupational Health and Safety Act states...

No discipline, dismissal, etc., by employer

50 (1) No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall,

(a)  dismiss or threaten to dismiss a worker;

(b)  discipline or suspend or threaten to discipline or suspend a worker;

(c)  impose any penalty upon a worker; or

(d)  intimidate or coerce a worker,

because the worker has acted in compliance with this Act or the regulations or an order made thereunder, has sought the enforcement of this Act or the regulations or has given evidence in a proceeding in respect of the enforcement of this Act or the regulations or in an inquest under the Coroners Act.  R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, s. 50 (1).


(2) Where a worker complains that an employer or person acting on behalf of an employer has contravened subsection (1), the worker may either have the matter dealt with by final and binding settlement by arbitration under a collective agreement, if any, or file a complaint with the Board in which case any rules governing the practice and procedure of the Board apply with all necessary modifications to the complaint.  1998, c. 8, s. 56 (1).

What this means...

Under section 50 of the OHSA, an employer cannot...

...because a worker has...

A worker also cannot be penalized for...