Our Employment Standards Services
(This information is current as of January 11, 2017.)
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: ($11.40 currently, with some exceptions);
- Hours of work and breaks (with some exceptions, no more than 8 hours a day);
- After 12 months of work, employees are entitled to at least two weeks paid vacation a year;
- 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 and severance pay you should be paid if you are let go from your job.
- Leaves of absence: your right to take unpaid time off for pregnancy leave, parental leave, family medical leave, and other forms of leave.
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, 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.
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 and file a claim; if there is merit to your complaint, it will be investigated by an employment standards officer.
Our clinic does not offer service in this area.
To speak with someone at the Employment Standards Branch, call
To find detailed information online, go to
- Employment Standards at Work (Work Smart Ontario)
To get information and claim forms online, go to
- Employment Standards (Ministry of Labour)