Employment Standards



Have a question? Ask our Experts by using the Contact Form.
  • What is ESA?
    • It is the Employment Standards Act, 2000 which outlines the employment rights and responsibilities of employers and employees.
  • Why should my company comply with ESA, 2000?
    • Compliance with the ESA avoids costly and time consuming investigations, and creates a strong foundation in your workplace.
  • What are the posting requirements?
    • The employer must post in an accessible location (e.g. - lunchroom) for employees the ESA poster - “Employment Standards in Ontario”; a copy of Occupational Health and Safety Act; the Health and Safety at Work poster - “Prevention Starts Here”; the WSIB “1 2 3 4” poster, Workplace Violence and Harassment statement, and the Health and Safety Policy Statement.
  • Am I required to give any of the posting requirements directly to the employees?
    • As of May 20, 2015, employers are required by law to provide employees with a copy of the most recent ESA poster - Employment Standards in Ontario" either electronically or by hard copy. If an employee requests a translated version, the employer must provide the translated version of the poster. Translated versions are available from the Ministry of Labour. 
  • Can an employee make an agreement that he or she will give up his or her rights under the ESA?
    • No one can agree to give up his or her rights under the ESA.  Any contract of this nature is considered void.
  • How do I know if my company will have a visit by the Ministry of Labour?​
    • An inspection can be conducted by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) Dedicated Enforcement Team.  If chosen for an audit, the employer will be notified in writing by the MOL prior to an inspection.

      In 2012/2013, the MOL Dedicated Enforcement Team conducted more than 2460 proactive inspections, including repeat violators.

  • What is a MOL Dedicated Enforcement Team?
    • It is a team of Employment Standards officers who conduct inspections at an employer’s workplace ensuring the basic requirements are being met under the ESA.
  • ​Can Employment Standards Officers require me to do a self-audit?
    • As of May 20, 2015, Employment Standards Officers now have the authority to require employers to conduct a self-audit which they could previously only request. A self-audit requires employers to review their own records to show Employment Standards Officers that they are meeting the requirements of the Employment Standards Act. 
  • What are the minimum wage rate requirements?
    • Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee. Most employees are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage.
    • Minimum Wage Rate Rates from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016 Current Rates as of October 1, 2016
      General Minimum Wage $11.25
      per hour
      per hour
      Student Minimum Wage $10.55
      per hour
      per hour
      Liquor Servers Minimum Wage $9.80
      per hour
      per hour
      Hunting and Fishing Guides Minimum Wage $56.30
      Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

      Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
      Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

      Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
      Homeworkers Wage $12.40
      per hour
      per hour
  • If for any reason I have to send my employees home early, what are the steps to follow?​
    • Employers are required to pay employees for the time they work.

      Employees, whose scheduled shift is more than three hours , that are sent home before working a minimum of three hours, are entitled to be paid the greater of:

      Three hours at minimum wage rate; or

      Employee's normal wage rate for every hour worked.

      Exceptions include students, employees whose scheduled shift is 3 hours or less, and when the reason to be sent home is beyond the employer’s control 

  • What deductions are employers allowed to take from employee’s wages?
    • Statutory deductions, benefit plan deductions, court ordered deductions, and employer pension deductions.  Deductions for uniforms, cash shortages, and advances cannot be made without the employee’s written consent.  The authorization must include a specific amount.
  • Can an employer request an employee to provide a doctor’s note?
    • An employer can ask for a doctor’s note requesting:  Length of absence and the date the employee was seen by the Doctor.  The employer cannot request diagnosis or treatment of patient.
  • How many public holidays are there?​
    • There are nine public holidays that most employees are entitled to time off work plus public holiday pay.

      Employees entitled to public holidays can be full-time, part-time, permanent, on contract, or students.  An employee’s date of hire or number of days worked does not exclude the employee from the public holiday.  To qualify, the employee must work their regular scheduled shift before and after the public holiday or have a reasonable reason to miss these shifts.

      If an employee agrees in writing to work a public holiday, they are entitled to their regular wages, another day off plus public holiday pay or 1.5 times their regular wages for every hour worked plus public holiday pay.

  • What do I owe my employees regarding vacation pay?
    • Employees are entitled to two weeks of vacation time after twelve months of work, which must be taken within ten months of earning it.  Vacation pay must be at least four per cent of the gross wages, and must be shown on employees wage statements when issuing.  Vacation is at the discretion of the employer.
  • What are the maximum hours of work?
    • The maximum hours of work is 8 hours a day, or a regular established number of hours if longer than 8 hours.  There must be a written agreement between the employee and the employer to exceed the daily maximum.

      The maximum hours in a work week is 48 hours, unless  there is a written agreement to exceed these hours which has been approved by the Director of Employment of Standards.

      Rest periods are 11 hours between shifts, 24 hours after one consecutive week and 48 hours after two weeks.

  • What are the rules for Coffee/Lunch breaks?
    • After five consecutive hours of work, an employee is entitled to an unpaid half hour eating period free from work.  Coffee breaks are at the discretion of the employer.
  • When does overtime occur?
    • Most workers are entitled to overtime after 44 hours in a work week.  Overtime is calculated on a weekly basis or longer if there is an averaging agreement.  Overtime is paid at the rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular wage.  If an employee agrees in writing, overtime can be banked at the rate of 1.5 hours for each hour of work.  This paid banked time must be taken within 12 months.
  • What types of leaves of absence are eligible employees entitled to take?
    • Under the ESA, eligible employees are entitled to several types of unpaid, job-protected leaves of absence, including Pregnancy and Parental Leave, Personal Emergency Leave, Family Caregiver Leave, Family Medical Leave, Critically Ill Child Care Leave, Organ Donor Leave, Reservist Leave, and Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave. Employees cannot be terminated for asking for or taking these leaves of absence. 
  • What are my obligations when terminating an employee?
    • In most situations an employee is entitled to written notice, pay in lieu of notice, or a combination of both.  The required notice period depends on the employees length of service.  Any employee with less than three months service does not require notice.  The employer does not have to provide a reason for termination.
  • Is an employee required to give notice of termination to an employer?
    • No, unless stated in the employee’s contract or if the employee is not returning from a pregnancy or parental leave.
  • If an employee files a complaint with the MOL, what events will follow? 
    • Employees who feel their rights have been violated under the ESA can file a complaint with the MOL and have their complaint investigated by an Employment Standards Officer. Both the employee who filed the complaint and the employer will be required to provide evidence, records or other information. If an Employment Standards Officer determines that an employee's rights have been violated, the employer will be required to remedy the violation. Employees cannot be punished for claiming their rights.