Employment and Work
The Niagara 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.
In the event of a wrongful termination, an employee is entitled to minimum termination pay by way of notice or pay in lieu of notice as follows:
Amount of notice required if an employee has been continuously employed for at least three months pursuant to the ESA:
|Period of employment||Notice required|
|Less than 1 year||1 week|
|1 year but less than 3 years||2 weeks|
|3 years but less than 4 years||3 weeks|
|4 years but less than 5 years||4 weeks|
|5 years but less than 6 years||5 weeks|
|6 years but less than 7 years||6 weeks|
|7 years but less than 8 years||7 weeks|
|8 years or more||8 weeks|
Note: Special rules determine the amount of notice required in the case of mass terminations – where the employment of 50 or more employees is terminated at an employer's establishment within a four-week period.
In addition to the above, you may be entitled to significantly greater compensation in accordance with the common law along with severance pay. Please contact our legal clinic to speak to one of our employment lawyers for advice specific to your situation and facts.
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 been terminated from your employment or 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. We can help advise you on the most appropriate forum, such as Small Claims Court, Ministry of Labour, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and Ontario Labour Relations Board as each forum has specific limitation periods and varying remedies that would help inform the most appropriate choice of forum to pursue your employer.
The Steps to Justice website offers step-by-step information about employment law and other common legal problems.