What Are My Rights as an Employee in Ontario?

Employment Contracts

Employees in Ontario have valuable rights and protections that safeguard their well-being and ensure fair treatment within the workplace. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some important points you must understand to ensure you receive fair treatment in the workplace. For insight into your specific situation, contact an experienced employment or labour lawyer, depending on whether you are unionized or individually employed. This blog will focus on individual employees. 

Ontario’s Employment Rights: What You Need to Know

From work hours to minimum wage, parental leave and termination pay, here is what you need to know about your rights and protections as an Ontario worker. 

Hours of Work: Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets limits on the hours you can be required to work in a day and a week. The standard workweek is 40 to 44 hours a week, with breaks. 

Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Ontario is regularly adjusted, so it’s crucial to stay informed of the current rate. As of October 1, 2023 the minimum wage for most employees is $16.55. Employers must pay you at least the minimum wage. You have the right to receive this wage for every hour of work, unless an exemption applies for certain industries and individuals. 

Overtime: When working more than 44 hours in a week, you are entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of at least 1.5 times your regular wage. Some employees, like IT professionals and business consultants, have recently been made exempt from these overtime provisions. An employment lawyer can provide specifics about your profession’s overtime rights. Frequently, employers misclassify who is exempt or misunderstand the employment regime in place, so it is prudent to ensure you are actually exempt from overtime.  

Public Holidays: You are entitled to a day off with public holiday pay on certain recognized holidays. If you do work on a holiday, you should receive premium pay. Check if your workplace recognizes all statutory holidays – if they don’t, you may want to reach out to an employment or labour lawyer.

Vacation Pay and Vacation Time: Under the ESA, employees are entitled to paid vacation time based on their length of service. Employers must provide you with vacation pay.

Parental Leave: Employees in Ontario have the right to take unpaid parental leave. This leave allows parents to spend time with their newborn or newly adopted child. The duration of parental leave can vary; discuss the details with your labour employer.

Personal Emergency Leave: The ESA provides 3 paid personal emergency leave for employees, allowing them to take time off for personal reasons and family emergencies. Outside those days, a leave of absence is typically unpaid; however, it ensures job protection during your absence.

Family, Caregiver or Critically Ill Child Leave: Besides personal emergency leave, there are provisions for family and caregiver leave, allowing you to care for a sick family member without fear of losing your job.

Termination and Severance Pay: Termination pay is compensation for employment terminated without cause. It is calculated based on your length of service with your employer. Severance pay is provided in specific cases and is typically offered to long-term employees of more than 5 years and a company with a global payroll in excess of $2.5 million.

Reprisal: Employers cannot retaliate against employees for asserting their employment rights or asking questions about your employment. If you believe you are being punished, disciplined or maligned for asserting your rights, seek legal advice from an employment lawyer.

Employees vs. Contractors: You should be aware of your employment status. Employees have specific rights and protections under the ESA, while contractors often have very few rights. However, certain contractors, known as “dependent contractors,” may be eligible for severance type of pay if their working relationship is exclusive, long-term, dependent on one source of income. This is a complex topic and you should read our other posts in this link

Basic Employee and Employer Responsibilities: Understanding the basic responsibilities of employees and employers is vital to receiving fair workplace treatment. Employers must adhere to the ESA, provide a safe work environment and respect your rights. Employees are responsible for performing their jobs competently, following workplace rules and reporting any concerns to their employer.

Experienced Employment Lawyers in Ontario

If you encounter difficulties or have questions about your employment rights, contact Lecker & Associates. Our dedicated labour lawyers have successfully represented employees of Ontario for over 35 years – allow us to represent you with excellence.

Call 416.223.5391 or complete our contact form to request a consultation.