You have rights at work!

Whether you're blue collar, white collar, a seasoned pro or a first timer.

This page is designed to be user and printer-friendly. If you're looking for something quickly, navigate using our menu below. You can also type CTRL+F CMD+F (desktop) or 'Find in page' (mobile) to keyword search (ex: 'reprisal', 'maternity leave', 'hours', 'employment insurance', 'unionizing' etc)Your protections are not limited to the ESA. See: "Occupational Health and Safety Act" and "Ontario Human Rights Code".Note: While independent/dependent contractors are exempt from certain protections, it is important to remember: many times the employer will misclassify employees/dependent contractors as indepdent. This is usually to avoid paying into Employment Insurance and $kimp on adhering to the ESA.

Updated on May 12, 2024 from the streets of Hamilton.

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Note: "Act" or "ESA" refers to the Employment Standards Act of Ontario, Canada. Your province, territory, or state will have a set of policies just like this one—For more precise results, try Googling "employment standards" and the province or state that you live in.

You have a right to:

Minimum Wage: Employees have the right to receive at least the minimum wage as mandated by the Act. In Ontario, it is currently $16.55/hr (Increasing to $17.20/hr)Overtime Pay: Eligible employees have the right to receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the standard workweek.Hours of Work: There are rules regarding maximum daily and weekly hours of work, as well as rest periods between shifts:
-Your employer must give you at least 11 hours of rest in between shifts.
-Your employer cannot make you work more hours than what you agreed to in your employment contract.In addition: your employer cannot force you to come in early before your shift starts to "prepare" if you are not being compensated. This also includes any meetings outside your regular hours. This is a common type of wage theft.Public Holidays: Employees are entitled to public holiday pay for designated holidays.Vacation PayTermination Pay and Notice: The Act outlines minimum notice periods or termination pay that employers must provide when terminating employment.Equal Pay for Equal Work: Employees have this right regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious identity, race, or class.Maternity and Parental Leave for New ParentsRefusal of unsafe workBack to top.

Health and Safety

REMINDER: Employees AND independant/dependent contractors are protected by provincial/state health and safety acts.For information regarding sanitation, washroom and water access, check out the relevant Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations hereIn Ontario, employers must establish and maintain a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) in workplaces with 20 or more employees, as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)If your workplace has less than 20 employees, your boss still has mandatory responsibilities. For example, they must display a copy of:-The Health and Safety at Work Poster: Outlines the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). It includes information about the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to know about workplace hazards, and the obligation to report workplace injuries and illnesses.-The WSIB Poster: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) poster provides information about workers' compensation coverage, reporting workplace injuries, and more.-A copy of the Employment Standards Act.NOTE: These posters and standards MUST be displayed prominently in the workplace where they are likely to be seen by all employees.Back to top.

Your Record of Employment

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), every employer has the obligation to issue a ROE to their employee within 5 days after the employee’s work separation. If an employer failed to issue the ROE, they could be fined up to $2,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both.Note: Your ROE can be uploaded electronically to Service Canada by your boss OR sent to you as a paper copy (you will then have to mail, drop off, or upload your paper ROE to MSCA)Back to top.

Applying for Employment Insurance

Apply for Employment Insurance immediately after losing your job as processing takes some time, especially if you are a first time applicant.Here is a list of things you will need to apply:

  • Your Social Insurance Number

  • The last name at birth of one of your parents

  • Your mailing and residential addresses, including the postal codes

  • Your banking information to sign up for direct deposit, including: financial institution name, bank branch (transit) number account number

  • Details about all employment in the past 52 weeks or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter. This includes: employer names, addresses, dates of employment and

  • Reason for separation (if you quit or were dismissed, you will need to provide your version of the facts)

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Unpaid Wages

Employers must establish a regular pay period and a regular pay day for employees.An employer has to pay all the wages earned in each pay period, other than vacation pay that is accruing, no later than the employee’s regular pay day for the period.If an employee’s employment ends, the employer must pay their outstanding wages, including vacation pay (plus any payments due to the employee because the employment has ended – see “Termination of employment” and “Severance pay” no later than:-seven days after the employment ends;
-on what would ordinarily have been the employee’s next regular pay day;
-whichever is later.
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How wages (including vacation pay) are paid.
An employer may pay wages, including vacation pay, by:
-direct deposit, which includes Interac e-Transfer, into the employee's account at a bank or other financial institution.
If payment is by cash or cheque, the employee must be paid the wages at the workplace or at some other place agreed to electronically or in writing by the employee.
If the wages are paid by direct deposit, the employee’s account must be their name. Nobody other than the employee can have access to the account unless the employee has authorized it.-Ontario Employment Standards Act-WagesBack to top.


Section 74 - Reprisal ProhibitedWhat is reprisal?
Reprisal is when your employer takes action against you because you exercised your rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), Ontario Human Rights Code or Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Your employer cannot fire you, demote you, reduce your pay, or give you a bad performance review because you:-Ask your employer to follow the law
-Inquire about or discuss your rights
-File a complaint with the government
-Exercise any of your rights under the law
-Talk to an employment standards officer
-Discuss rate of pay with your coworkers
-Disclose your own pay to another employee
-Testify or participate in a legal proceeding
-Take a leave of absence
-Are required to pay money to someone else because of a court order or garnishment
If your employer retaliates against you for exercising your rights, you can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and may be awarded reinstatement, compensation, or both.-Ontario Employment Standards Act
-Occupational Health and Safety Act
-Ontario Human Rights Code
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Penalty for Violating or Circumventing the Employment Standards Act

ESA Enforcement ActionsThe Employment Standards Act of Ontario (ESA) has a variety of enforcement actions that can be taken against employers who violate the law. These actions include:Compliance Order: An ESA officer can order an employer to stop violating the ESA and take steps to comply with the law.Order to Pay: An ESA officer can order an employee to pay an employee up to $10,000 (or more in some cases) for an ESA violation.Ticket: An ESA officer can issue a ticket for less serious ESA violations, which carries a set fine of $295, plus a victim fine surcharge and court costs.Notice of Contravention: An ESA officer can issue a notice of contravention for more serious ESA violations, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.Prosecution: The ESA can prosecute employers who violate the ESA, which can result in a fine of up to $100,000 for a first conviction, $250,000 for a second conviction, and $500,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
The ESA also has the power to imprison individuals who violate the ESA, but this is typically only done in the most serious cases.
-Employment Standards Act of Ontario
-Macleod Law Firm - Canada:
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