FAQs

What is ESA, 2000 and why should your company comply with it?


It is the Employment Standards Act which sets the minimum standards of employment and outlines the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers. Complying with it can prevent costly and time-consuming investigations.




What are the posting requirements?


The employer must post in an accessible location (e.g. - lunchroom) for employees, the most recent version of the ESA poster - “Fair at Work 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?


Employers are required to provide employees with a copy of the most recent ESA poster - "Fair at Work Ontario" version 7, either electronically or by hard copy within 30 days of the date of hire or whenever a new version of the poster is published. If an employee requests the poster in another language, the employer must provide the translated version of the poster as well as the English version. The translated versions are available on the Ministry of Labour (MOL) website. Employer should record when employees were given the poster.




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?​


Reactive and proactive inspections will be conducted by an Employment Standards Officer. If chosen for an audit, the employer will be notified in writing of the records and documents required prior to an inspection. The employer must produce the records requested and answer relevant questions. The officer can take records or other information for review.




​Can Employment Standards Officers require me to do a self-audit?


Employment Standards Officers have the authority to require employers to conduct a self-audit. 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. General Minimum Wage

  • October 1 2017 - December 31 2017
    • $11.60 per hour
  • January 1 2018 - September 30 2020
    • $14.00 per hour
  • October 1 2020 - September 30th 2021
    • $14.25 per hour
Student Minimum Wage
  • October 1 2017 - December 31 2017
    • $10.90 per hour
  • January 1 2018 - September 30 2020
    • $13.15 per hour
  • October 1 2020 - September 30th 2021
    • $13.40 per hour
Liquor Servers Minimum Wage
  • October 1 2017 - December 31 2017
    • $10.10 per hour
  • January 1 2018 - September 30 2020
    • $12.20 per hour
  • October 1 2020 - September 30th 2021
    • $12.45 per hour
For more minimum wage rate requirements, visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.




What is the difference between Sick, Bereavement and Family Responsibility Leave?


All employees are entitled to up to eight (8) unpaid days in a calendar year, divided between three (3) different leaves. Sick Leave Employees are entitled to three (3) unpaid sick leave days due to personal illness, injury or medical emergency. Bereavement Leave Employees are entitled to two (2) unpaid bereavement leave days for the death of certain family members. Family Responsibility Leave Employees are entitled to three (3) unpaid family responsibility leave days for the illness, injury or urgent matter relating to certain family members.




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, and 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 regular 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.




How many public holidays are there?​


There are nine public holidays where 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. 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 both vacation pay and vacation time after twelve months of work, which must be taken within ten months of earning it. Employees with 1-4 years of employment are entitled to receive two (2) weeks of vacation time, for each 12 months of employment. These employees are also entitled to receive at least 4% of the gross wages earned during that year and must be shown on the employee’s wage statements when issuing. Employees with more than 5 years of employment are entitled to receive three (3) weeks of vacation time, for each 12 months of employment. These employees are also entitled to receive at least 6% of the gross wages earned during that year and must be shown on the employee’s wage statements when issuing. Vacation time must be taken within ten months of earning it. Vacation is at the discretion of the employer.




What are the maximum hours of work?


The maximum daily hours of work are 8 hours, 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 weekly hours are 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 and employer agree 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 3 months or, if the employer and employee agree, in writing, to take the time 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, Sick Leave, Bereavement Leave, Family Responsibility Leave, Family Caregiver Leave, Family Medical Leave, Critical Illness Leave, Organ Donor Leave, Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave, Reservist Leave, Child Death Leave, Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave and Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Employees cannot be penalized for asking 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 employee’s 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 claim/complaint with the MOL and it will be investigated by an Employment Standards Officer. Both the employee who filed the claim/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.