Our Employment Law Services
(This information is current as of April 24, 2019.)
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic offers employment law summary advice and representation (pending financial eligibility)
Employees working in Ontario have rights that are protected by law. Many of those rights are found in a law called the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The ESA contains employment standards that must be followed by employers, such as:
- Minimum wage is $14.00 (with some exceptions) and will increase in October 2020.
- Hours of work and breaks (with some exceptions), can be no more than 48 hours per week.
- After 12 months of work, employees are entitled to at least two weeks paid vacation a year and vacation pay of no less than 4% gross wages is an entitlement as of start of work;;
- Public holiday and public holiday pay;
- Working overtime (with some exceptions, hours more than 44 in a week are payable at 1.5 your regular rate);
- Equal pay for equal work (men and women must be paid the same for the same work);
- Temporary layoffs (layoffs that are longer than those defined as ‘temporary’ are dismissals);
- Minimum termination pay after 3 months employment. Severance pay is also an entitlement for certain employees.
- Leaves of absence: The right to take unpaid time off for pregnancy leave, parental leave, family medical leave, and other forms of leave. There is entitlement to 3 sick days, 3 family responsibility days, and 2 bereavement days.
Other Laws that Protect Workers
There are other laws for workers in Ontario that protect you in your employment. For instance:
- Employers are required to have policies and procedures in place for addressing harassment and violence in the workplace;
- ‘workplace violence’ also includes threats of violence where you reasonably feel is a threat of physical force;
- in most cases, employees have the right to refuse to do work where there is a likely chance of physical endangerment (for instance, where there is defective, dangerous equipment);
- employees are protected from being penalized by their employer for trying to enforce their rights under law (such as reporting safety hazards to their employer);
- in most cases, if you have a disability, your employer is required to accommodate your disability to the point of "undue hardship", which is a high standard;
- Employees have the right to a workplace free of harassment or discrimination based on a number of grounds including gender, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnic origin, and place of origin, citizenship, colour, creed, gender identity or expression, record of offences, marital status, or family status.
If you have questions or concerns about your rights as an employee, our clinic can provide advice. If you call our office, we will connect you with an employment lawyer.
You can also call the Ministry of Labour, which has an Employment Standards Branch to answer your questions about employment standards. To speak with someone at the Employment Standards Branch, call1-800-531-5551.
More information on the Employment Standards Act can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0?_ga=2.164392375.90054977.1556120894-498737358.1508871973
If you think that your employer is not following employment standards or following other laws that apply to you as an employee in Ontario, you should speak to your boss or direct supervisor and try to work it out. If this does not work, you can seek help through a lawyer with our clinic if you are financially eligible for representation. You can also call the Ministry of Labour or file a claim online or in hard copy; if there is merit to your complaint, it will be investigated by an employment standards officer.