How the Right to Refuse Works

Under the Canada Labour Code, Part 2, Section 128, you have the right to refuse unsafe or unhealthy work.  If you have reason to believe the work is likely to endanger you or someone else, this is what you do.


Report the problem to your employer or supervisor and a to a union member of the health and safety committee.  It is illegal for the employer to discipline workers for refusing unsafe work (S. 147).


Takes remedial action or investigates in the presence of the worker and at least one member of the health and safety committee.


If you still believe there are reasonable grounds to continue to refuse then the employer must notify a health and safety officer.


Investigates and decides on needed remedial action in the presence of the employer, the worker and the worker’s representative.


Until the officer’s decision you should remain in a safe location nearby or you may be reassigned to reasonable alternate work at no loss in pay.  No other worker can be assigned to do the work you have refused pending the officer’s decision unless advised of your refusal and your reasons.  Workers affected by your refusal must be paid (S. 128. 1).


If you disagree with the officer, you may appeal the decision to the appeals officer within 10 days (S. 129).  You challenge unfair discipline by putting in a grievance or filing a complaint within 90 days to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (S. 133).

For the name of the Health & Safety Committee member in your area, please contact Chuck Rouse at 506-850-8510.