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FAQ Employment

  • FAQs for Workers’ Compensations

    What is “Workers' Compensation” about?

    Workers' compensation was Canada's first social program to be introduced as it was favoured by both workers' groups and employers hoping to avoid lawsuits. The system arose after an inquiry by Ontario Chief Justice William Meredith who outlined a system that workers should be compensated for workplace injuries, but that they must give up their right to sue their employers. It was introduced in the various provinces at different dates. Ontario was first in 1915, Manitoba in 1916, British Columbia in 1917. In Ontario, the occupational health and safety are legislatively assigned to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

    What are the laws that govern workplace health and safety issues in Ontario?

    The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is Ontario's cornerstone legislation for workplace health and safety. Other legislation includes the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) and the Human Rights Code.

    What is Workplace Safety and Insurance Board?

    In Ontario, the occupational health and safety are legislatively assigned to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The program also has a preventative role ensuring workplace safety. The workers' compensation insurance system is funded by employers based on their payroll, industry sector and history of injuries (or lack thereof) in their workplace (usually referred to as "experience rating"). A worker who sustains a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of their employment is entitled to benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

    What are the most common workplace injuries?

    The most commonly reported workplace injuries are: death, head injuries, brain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, lung cancer, and cancer caused by asbestos exposure (mesothelioma). Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes of workplace lost-time injury in Ontario. They can occur in any workplace, and nearly 20% of all lost-time injury claims in Ontario relate to slips, trips and falls. Many construction accidents involve electrocution. Welding activities are another common cause of accidents. Trenching is another of the highest risk activities. Recently crane injuries and fatalities have been noted.

    I work as a driver for a big corporation and have got injured in a motor vehicle accident while working. Where I have to go to apply for the accident benefits?

    In the case of motor vehicle accidents, there are special situations that are confusing. For example, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, if you are a driver in the course of your employment duties, you may have to seek recovery through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, rather than through the "normal" insurance. An early determination of these jurisdiction and forum issues is critical in order that you take the steps necessary within the many prescribed time limits because in every case the injured party is responsible for making application for the benefits and compensation they are entitled to.

    What are the “insured” injuries?

    If the accident arises out of the worker’s employment, it is presumed to have occurred in the course of the employment unless the contrary is shown. However, a worker is not entitled to benefits if the accident occurs while the worker is employed outside of Ontario. Under the insurance plan a worker is entitled to benefits for: mental stress, occupational diseases and heart injury.

    I have got injured at work and was unable to work for a while. Now I’m recovered and ready to work again. Does my employer has legal obligation to re-employ me?

    The employer of a worker who has been unable to work as a result of an injury and who, on the date of the injury, had been employed continuously for at least one year by the employer shall offer to re-employ the worker. The employer is obligated until the earliest of:

    • the second anniversary of the date of injury
    • one year after the worker is medically able to perform the essential duties of his or her pre-injury employment
    • the date on which the worker reaches 65 years of age

    What is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) about?

    The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) protects workers from health and safety hazards on the job. It sets out duties for all workplace parties and rights for workers. It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and provides for enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved voluntarily. OHSA applies to almost every worker, supervisor, employer and workplace in Ontario, including workplace owners, constructors and suppliers of equipment or materials to workplaces covered by the Act. OHSA does not apply to work done by the owner or occupant, or a servant, in a private residence or on the connected land (Section 3(1))

    Who is not covered by OHSA?

    Workplaces under federal jurisdiction are regulated by the Canada Labour Code, which is administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). Federally incorporated businesses are those businesses that are working for the common good of at least two provinces and are outside the exclusive legislative authority of any one province. They are subject to provincial employment laws if they are not operating with these 15 major sectors:

    • air and water transport
    • federal crown corporations
    • energy and mining
    • banking
    • the federal public service
    • pipelines
    • bridges and tunnels
    • feed, flour and seed mills
    • postal contractors
    • broadcasting
    • grain elevators
    • rail transport
    • communications
    • longshoring
    • interprovincial road transport

    How is OHSA enforced?

    Enforcement begins with the issuing of orders and may proceed to prosecution. A prosecution may be initiated against anyone having duties mentioned in OHSA. Inspectors are the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Labour; their role includes the following:

    • inspection of workplaces
    • issuing of orders where there is a contravention of OHSA or its regulations
    • investigation of accidents and work refusals
    • resolution of disputes
    • recommendation of prosecution

    What are the penalties for not complying with OHSA and its regulations?

    The maximum penalties for a contravention of OHSA or its regulations are set out in OHSA Section 66. A successful prosecution could, for each conviction, result in:

    • A fine of up to $25,000 for an individual person and/or up to 12 months imprisonment
    • A fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation.

    What rights does OHSA give to workers?

    Workers' rights under OHSA include:

    • The "right to participate" to be part of the process of identifying and resolving health and safety concerns. This right is expressed mainly in the requirements for Joint Health and Safety Committees and representatives.
    • The "right to know" about any hazards to which they may be exposed. The requirements of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are an important example.
    • The "right to refuse work" that they believe is dangerous and, under certain circumstances, certified Joint Health and Safety Committee members can stop work that is dangerous.

    What duties do workers have under OHSA?

    In Ontario, all workers have a general duty to take responsibility for personal health and safety. They have to work in compliance with OHSA and regulations; use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer; report any known workplace hazard or violation of the Act to the employer or supervisor.

    What duties do employers have under OHSA?

    There are general and specific duties to employers:

    • Take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers
    • Ensure that equipment, materials and protective equipment are maintained in good condition
    • Provide information, instruction and supervision to protect worker health and safety
    • Co-operate with the JHSC
    • Comply with all regulations made under OHSA
    • Develop and implement a health and safety program and policy
    • Post a copy of OHSA in the workplace
    • Provide health and safety reports to the JHSC

    Are there any legal temperature ranges for workplaces, either hot or cold?

    In a health care facility or an industrial establishment, such as a factory, store, shop or office, the regulations set a minimum temperature of 18°C. Working outdoors or in freezers is a subject to exemptions. The construction projects regulation specifies a minimum of 27°C for underground change rooms, a maximum of 38°C for work chambers, and where work is done in compressed air, the provision of a medical lock with a minimum of 18°C and maximum of 27°C. There are no set minimum or maximum temperatures for other workplaces. Nevertheless, because either extreme heat or cold may be a hazard, temperature is a legitimate issue in determining workplace safety. A particular concern is heat stress.

    I work in a warehouse and often I have to lift very heavy things. Are there any legal limits about how much weight a worker is required to lift?

    The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) does not have any particular numbers describing a safe weight for lifting, although it is well known that lifting can be a hazard for workers. The maximum acceptable amount of weight a worker can handle depends on the worker's build and fitness, the height lifted from and to, the distance from the body, the frequency of lifting, and other factors. There are general precautions that can reduce lifting hazards, and an ergonomic analysis can be performed to determine what is likely to be safe for a specific person performing a particular task.

    I work in an office and one of my colleagues smokes at work. What can I do about it?

    Local public health units will carry out inspections and investigate complaints in workplaces to enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. The act prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces in Ontario in order to protect workers from exposure to second hand smoke. The act repeals the Smoking in the Workplace Act, which was enforced by the Ministry of Labour.

    What are the legal requirements for personal protective equipment?

    Although there is no general requirement in the Ministry of Labour's legislation for an employer to provide workers with personal protective equipment, an employer has a general duty, under OHSA Section 25(2)(h) to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances" to protect workers. In practical terms, this means personal protective equipment should be provided to workers wherever there are health (or safety) risks that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. PPE can reduce or prevent a worker's exposure to a health hazard in the workplace and can include respirators, hearing protectors, protective clothing, footwear and face and eye shields. Personal protective equipment is required in specific situations and dealt with in regulations made under OHSA. Section 7 of the Regulation respecting the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents requires respirators to be provided when engineering controls are not practical. Under Section 139(2) of the Regulation respecting Industrial Establishments, a worker with an excessive exposure to noise must wear hearing protection.

    Are there workplace requirements for first aid?

    Workplaces that are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 are required by regulation to have adequate first aid equipment, facilities, and trained people. Additional first aid requirements for particular work situations are specified in the Ministry’s of Labour Regulations for Construction Projects (Sections 261 to 263, 355, 361 and 362) and for Mines and Mining Plants (Section 281.1 and the Schedule).

    What should a worker do if injured at work?

    Obviously, first thing to do for an injured worker is to get proper medical attention. It is the responsibility of the employer. It may take the form of first aid from a trained co-worker or require transportation to and treatment at a hospital. The injury-causing incident must also be reported to the worker's supervisor or employer, so that the employer's responsibilities under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act can be met. One of these responsibilities is completion of a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board form (WSIB Form 7), which must be submitted to the WSIB before workers, who are eligible, can receive workplace safety insurance (formerly known as workers' compensation).

    What is a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

    A Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) is a committee of at least two persons, who represent the workers and the employer at a workplace. Their primary role is to identify workplace health and safety problems and bring them to the attention of the employer. Any workplace that regularly employs 20 or more workers (Section 9 of OHSA) has to have a JHSC. Workplaces with more than five but less than 20 workers are not usually required to have a JHSC. Instead, workers must select a person from among themselves to be a health and safety representative.

    What is the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)?

    WHMIS is a Canada-wide system designed to give employers and workers information about hazardous materials used in the workplace. It has been implemented by a combination of federal and provincial legislation. The main purpose of the federal WHMIS legislation is to require suppliers of hazardous materials used in the workplace to provide health and safety information about their products as a condition of sale. WHMIS requires employers to obtain health and safety information about hazardous materials in their workplaces and to pass it on to their workers (Regulation 860). There are three ways in which the information is to be provided:

    • Labels on the containers of hazardous materials
    • Material safety data sheets to supplement the label with detailed hazard and precautionary information
    • Worker education programs

    What is an occupational hazard?

    An occupational hazard is a thing or situation with the potential to harm a worker. Occupational hazards can be divided into two categories: safety hazards that cause accidents that physically injure workers, and health hazards which result in the development of disease. It is important to note that a "hazard" only represents a potential to cause harm. Whether it actually does cause harm will depend on circumstances, such as the toxicity of the health hazard, exposure amount, and duration. Hazards can also be rated according to the severity of the harm they cause - a significant hazard being one with the potential to cause a critical injury or death.

    What is the difference between “hazard” and “risk”?

    The hazard posed by some material or situation is its potential to cause harm. Risk is the probability, or chance, that it actually will harm someone. For example, crossing the Atlantic Ocean by plane or rowboat exposes the traveller to the same hazard of drowning, but the risk of drowning is immeasurably higher in the rowboat. It is the risk of drowning (among other things!) not the hazard that discourages people from rowing across the Atlantic.

    What are the benefits that a worker can be compensated for?

    The compensation can be the following:

    • Payments for loss of earnings
    • Payments for loss of retirement income
    • Compensation for non-economic loss
    • Degree of permanent impairment
    • Death benefits

    A worker who has a loss of earnings as a result of the injury is entitled to payments beginning when the loss of earnings begins. The payments continue until the earliest of,

    • the day on which the worker’s loss of earnings ceases;
    • the day on which the worker reaches 65 years of age, if the worker was less than 63 years of age on the date of the injury;
    • two years after the date of the injury, if the worker was 63 years of age or older on the date of the injury;
    • the day on which the worker is no longer impaired as a result of the injury

    If a worker’s injury results in permanent impairment, the worker is entitled to compensation for his or her non-economic loss. The amount of the compensation is calculated by multiplying the percentage of the worker’s permanent impairment from the injury is $51,535.37 plus $1,145.63 for each year by which the worker’s age at the time of the injury was less than 45; or $51,535.37 less $1,145.63 for each year by which the worker’s age at the time of the injury was greater than 45. However, the maximum amount to be multiplied by the percentage of the worker’s impairment is $74,439.52 and the minimum amount is $28,631.22.

    Is there a time limit to file a claim for benefits?

    A worker shall file a claim as soon as possible after the accident that gives rise to the claim, but in no case shall he or she file a claim more than 6 months after the accident or, in the case of an occupational disease, after the worker learns that he or she suffers from the disease. The Board may permit a claim to be filed after the six-month period expires if, in the opinion of the Board, it is just to do so. If the claimant does not file the claim with the Board, no benefits shall be provided under the insurance plan unless the Board, in its opinion, decides that it is just to do so.

    I think that my working conditions are not safe. What can I do about it?

    Health and safety concerns should first be brought to the attention of the employer or supervisor. If nothing is done, it can be taken to the worker's health and safety representative or Joint Health and Safety Committee. If the situation is not corrected, it can be reported to the nearest office of the Ministry of Labour. Workers also have the right to refuse unsafe work. OHSA Section 43 outlines the procedure that must be followed, and this process should be understood before a refusal is initiated.

  • FAQs for Employers

    Why should I get involved in apprenticeship training?

    Participating in apprenticeship training allows you to develop employees who are not only trained to provincial industry standards but who also understand your specific workplace. There can often be financial benefits as well. Recruiting potential apprentices through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program can be a cost-effective solution to training and retaining young workers. The Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit is available to help employers hire apprentices in certain skilled trades. You also benefit from the government-supported in-class training your apprentices will receive, while supporting your future workforce needs and those of your industry. Want to get started? Take a look at the services for employers or contact Employment Ontario.

    Where can I find information on hiring an apprentice?

    The Employers section of this website offers news and information for employers. Take a look at the services for employers or contact Employment Ontario.

    Why should I consider hiring people who have been trained or educated in other countries?

    Your business success – and Ontario's economy – depend on a well-educated and highly skilled workforce. Internationally trained individuals have become a key component of Ontario's workforce, and a source of competitive advantage. Most new Ontarians of working age bring with them first-hand experience of countries that are not only potential clients but also economic rivals in today's global marketplace. The majority of newcomers to Ontario are in their prime working years. More than 70% of those of working age are highly skilled, with postsecondary education or training.

    What are my responsibilities as an employer and where do I find information about the laws regarding employees?

    You'll find a wealth of information on these and other topics in the What Employers Want to Know section of the Service Ontario Workplace Gateway website. You may also want to review the Employment Standards information on the Ministry of Labour website.

  • FAQ for Job Seekers

    Where can I get help with my resume, cover letter, interview skills, etc?

    Here are some basic tips from our Summer Jobs brochure. You should also have a look at the Resources for Job Seekers section of our website. For detailed information about job skills and work habits that employers look for, see the Ontario Skills Passport.

    Does the Ontario government have summer jobs for students?

    The Ontario government supports many summer job opportunities, including:

    How do I make a complaint if I believe an employer has unfair hiring practices?

    Workers in Ontario have both rights and responsibilities under the law. You'll find lots of information on these and other topics in the What Workers Want to Know section of the ServiceOntario Workplace Gateway website. You may also want to review the Employment Standards information on the Ministry of Labour website.

  • FAQS for Employees

    I want a change. Where can I go to learn about other jobs or careers?

    You can use the Employment Ontario network to find Job Banks and other employment services in your area. Also, Job Connect can help you plan, prepare for and succeed in the job market, and work toward higher skills training and employment. Through Job Connect you can get help with:

    • learning about jobs and careers
    • planning your career and preparing for employment
    • finding a job suited to your skills

    I'm going to be losing my job. What can I do?

    If you are affected by a plant closure or downsizing, the government's Adjustment Advisory Program can help. An adjustment advisor can give you advice on career planning, upgrading your training or education, job searching, starting a small business, or dealing with stress of job loss. If you are interested in this program, just contact one of the 26 apprenticeship field offices across Ontario for more information and ask to be referred to an adjustment advisor.  Services offered by the federal government include Employment Insurance and Active Employment Measures. Finally, the Ontario Works Program provides income and employment assistance for people who are in temporary financial need.

    My disability is making it hard to find work. What should I do?

    In addition to the services available to all Ontarians, the Ontario Disability Support Program provides supports to people with disabilities who want and are able to work.

    What supports are there for Aboriginal peoples?

    The Aboriginal Human Resources Development Council of Canada offers a number of services to help Aboriginal peoples enter and stay in the workforce.

    Where can I find out more about the working in Ontario?

    The Ministry of Labour provides information for employees on many topics including:

    • Wages and Hours of Work
    • Health and Safety
    • Insurance and Benefits
    • Business Productivity

    How can Employment Ontario help me?

    Employment Ontario is Ontario's employment and training network. We want to help you get the training, education, skills and experience you need to achieve your goals. We want to connect people looking for work with employers looking for workers. You can access Employment Ontario in three ways: by telephone, online or in person. Callers to Employment Ontario's toll-free Hotline will receive help in the language of their choice. Descriptions of Employment Ontario services are available in 25 languages.

  • Labour Relations

    What is the “ESA”?

    The ESA is the Employment Standards Act, 2000, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers and minimum standards for conditions of employment in most workplaces in Ontario. The ESA establishes basic employer obligations and employee rights with respect to rates of pay, hours of work and overtime, vacations, public holidays, various forms of leave and more. The ESA contains some of the rules affecting work in Ontario. The ESA is enforced by officers who work for the Employment Standards Program, which is part of the Ministry of Labour.

    What does the ESA cover?

    The ESA covers a wide range of employment standards including: minimum requirements for workplaces; provisions to assist employees with family responsibilities; increased flexibility in work arrangements; and mechanisms for compliance and enforcement. No employee can agree to waive or give up their rights under the ESA (for example, the right to receive overtime pay or public holiday pay). Any such agreement is null and void. Subjects covered under the ESA include:

    • Posting Requirements
    • Hours of Work
    • Eating Periods
    • Rest Periods
    • Wages and Overtime
    • Minimum Wage
    • Pregnancy and Parental Leave
    • Personal Emergency Leave
    • Family Medical Leave
    • Public Holidays
    • Vacation
    • Termination and Severance of Employment
    • Temporary Layoffs
    • Equal Pay for Equal Work
    • Temporary Help Agencies
    • Enforcement and Compliance

    Who are covered and not covered by the ESA?

    Most employees and employers in Ontario are covered by the ESA. However, the ESA does not apply to certain individuals and persons or organizations for whom they work, including:

    • Those in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as airlines, banks, the federal civil service, post offices, radio and television stations and inter-provincial railways
    • Individuals performing work in a work experience program authorized by a school board, college of applied arts and technology, or university
    • People who do community participation under the Ontario Works Act, 1997
    • Police officers (except the Lie Detectors part of the ESA, which does apply)
    • Inmates taking part in work programs, or people who perform work as part of a sentence or order of a court
    • People who hold political, judicial, religious or trade union offices.

    What the Labour Relations Act is about?

    The Labour Relations Act, 1995 governs both the process by which a trade union acquires bargaining rights and the procedures by which trade unions and employers engage in collective bargaining; the Act applies primarily to workplaces in the private sector, but also applies to certain parts of the public sector (municipal workers, hospital employees, Ontario Hydro, etc.) with some modifications.

    What are other workplace-related laws?

    The other provincial and federal workplace-related laws include:

    • The Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
    • The Pay Equity Act
    • The Human Rights Code
    • The Canada Pension Plan
    • The Ontario Works Act

    If an employee is off sick, can he or she be fired?

    If the sick day is a personal emergency leave day under the ESA, the employee cannot be penalized for taking the day off. Personal emergency leave days are job-protected under the Act.

    Can employees take time off for doctor's appointments?

    An employee whose employer regularly employees 50 or more employees is entitled to 10 personal emergency leave days per year. Personal Emergency leave days can be used to attend a doctor's appointment if the appointment is because of an illness, injury or medical emergency. This leave is job-protected.

    Do employees have to give notice to their employers when they quit their job?

    The ESA does not address the issue of employees giving notice to the employer when they quit their job, except under the pregnancy and parental leave provisions, which require that employees give notice to their employer if they are not returning, and in cases where the employer is terminating the employment of 50 or more employees in a four-week period. Employees may be required to provide their employer with notice that they are quitting under other laws

    Can employees choose to take their employer to court for wrongful dismissal rather than filing a claim with the Ministry of Labour?

    An employee can choose to sue an employer in a court of law for wrongful dismissal. However, an employee can't sue an employer for wrongful dismissal and have a claim for termination or severance pay investigated by the ministry for the same termination or severance. The employee must choose one procedure or the other.

    What does the law say about exceeding limits on hours of work?

    In Ontario, a written agreement is required for exceeding limits on hours of work. An employer and an employee can agree in writing that the employee will work more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. These agreements are valid only if, prior to making the agreement, the employer gives the employee the Information Sheet for Employees about Hours of Work and Overtime Pay prepared by the Director of Employment Standards that describes the hours of work and overtime rules in the ESA. In order to be valid, the agreement must also include a statement in which the employee acknowledges receipt of the Information Sheet. In most cases, an employee can cancel an agreement to work more hours by giving the employer two weeks' written notice and an employer can cancel the agreement by providing reasonable notice. Once the agreement is revoked an employee is not permitted to work excess daily or weekly hours even if the employer has an approval from the Director of Employment Standards for excess weekly hours. An agreement between an employee and an employer to work additional daily or weekly hours, or an approval from the Director of Employment Standards for excess weekly hours, does not relieve an employer from the requirement to pay overtime.

    What does the law say about coffee breaks?

    An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period (meal break) free from work. The law does not require an employer to provide any breaks in addition to this eating period. However, if the employer does provide another type of a break, such as a coffee break, and the employee must remain at his or her workplace during the break, the employee must be paid at least the minimum wage for that time.

    Is the employer required to provide a ride home if an employee works late?

    Employers have no obligation to provide transportation to or from work under the ESA, although individual contracts of employment or a collective agreement may require it.

    Do employers have the right to schedule an employee to work an overnight shift alone?

    The ESA does not put restrictions on the timing of an employee's shift, other than the restrictions relating to hours of work (i.e., the maximum length of a work day, certain hours employees are entitled to be free of work, eating periods).

    Do employees get paid more for working Sundays, or for working late at night?

    There is nothing in the ESA that requires employees to be paid more for working Sundays, or late at night.

    Can an employee agree not to receive his or her rights under the ESA?

    No employee can agree to give up his or her rights under the ESA (for example, the right to personal emergency leave). Any such agreement is invalid.

    My employer has charged me for the uniform that I have to ware at work. Was he right?

    The employer is responsible for making decisions about dress codes, uniforms and other clothing requirements. An employer may make a deduction from wages to cover the cost of a uniform, or other clothing requirements if the employee has signed a specific written authorization permitting the deduction and setting out its amount. However, a dress code cannot violate a collective agreement at the workplace, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the rules under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

    Are pensions covered by the ESA?

    The ESA does not require employers to provide pension plans. However, if they do, they are required to allow employees to continue participating in the plans (and certain other benefit plans, if these are provided) when on pregnancy, parental, personal emergency, family medical or declared emergency leave under the Act. In addition, the ESA does not allow employers to discriminate on the basis of age, sex, marital status or same-sex partnership status in the provision of benefit plans, including pension plans, unless this is allowed by the Benefit Plans regulation under the ESA.

    What if the employer does not follow the ESA?

    If an employee thinks the employer is not complying with the ESA, he or she can call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or toll free at 1-800-531-5551 for more information about the ESA and how to file a complaint. Complaints are investigated by an employment standards officer who can, if necessary, make orders against an employer-including an order to comply with the ESA. The ministry has a number of other options to enforce the ESA, including requesting voluntary compliance, issuing an order to pay wages, an order to reinstate and/or compensate, a notice of contravention, or issuing a ticket or otherwise prosecuting the employer under the Provincial Offences Act.

    I think my employer has broken some of the employment standards. How I can make a claim?

    There are 4 steps that must be followed in order to file a claim.

    • Step 1: Contact your employer
    • Step 2: Collect important documents
    • Step 3: Fill out the Claim Form
    • Step 4: The Claim Form Submission

    It is recommended that an employee file his or her claim submission online. They will receive a claim submission number immediately. You may also file your claim submission:

    • By fax at 1-888-252-4684.
    • In person at a ServiceOntario Centre (1-800-267-8097).
    • By mail to:
    Provincial Claims Centre
    Ministry of Labour
    70 Foster Drive, Suite 410
    Roberta Bondar Place
    Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 6V4

    Employees can get a copy of the Employment Standards Claim Form:

    • on the Ministry of Labour's website (
    • by mail through ServiceOntario Publications; or
    • in person at a ServiceOntario Centre.

    The Ministry of Labour has published a Claim Form Guide with detailed instructions about the completion of the Claim Form (

    What are considered good reasons for not contacting my employer?

    On the Claim Form an employee can request an exemption from the requirement to contact his or her employer. The Claim Form provides a list of possible acceptable reasons for doing so, including a language barrier, fear to do so and employer closure or bankruptcy. There are also possible exemptions for certain employees such as live-in caregivers and young employees. The Claim Form will also allow employees to give an explanation of other reasons which they believe should be considered for exemption.

    When an employee cannot file a claim?

    An employee who is covered by the ESA cannot file a claim with the Ministry of Labour if:

    • an employee is represented by a trade union: these employees - if they are covered by a collective agreement and whether or not they are actually members of the union - must use the grievance procedure contained in the collective agreement between the employer and the trade union.
    • an employee has already filed a claim in a court of law

    What is Ontario's Family Medical Leave?

    With Ontario's Family Medical Leave, an employee is eligible for up to eight weeks job-protected leave from work in the event of a loved one becoming gravely ill to whom a qualified medical practitioner has issued a certificate indicating that he or she has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks. So you can stop work and care for them, knowing your job will be there when you get back. The eight weeks of a Family Medical Leave do not have to be taken consecutively but an employee may only take a leave in periods of entire weeks within a specified 26-week period.

    Who can take family medical leave?

    All employees, whether fulltime or part-time, permanent or contract, who are covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 are entitled to Family Medical Leave.

    I need to take care of my family member who is seriously ill. Is a family medical leaf paid?

    Family medical leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to eight (8) weeks in a 26 week period. Family medical leave may be taken to provide care or support to certain family members and people who consider the employee to be like a family member in respect of whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate stating that he or she has a serious illness with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks. Some employers have paid benefit plans for sickness, bereavement and other leaves of absence. These plans aren't required by the ESA.

    Who can take a personal emergency leave?

    Employees who work for employers that regularly employ at least 50 employees are entitled to personal emergency leave in certain situations. Personal emergency leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 10 days each year. It may be taken in the case of a personal illness, injury or medical emergency, or a death, illness, injury, medical emergency of, or urgent matter relating to, certain relatives. An employer is allowed to ask an employee to provide evidence that he or she is eligible for a personal emergency leave. The employee is required to provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances.

    Are there specified family members for whom a family medical leave may be taken?

    The specified individuals for whom a family medical leave may be taken are:

    • the employee’s spouse (including same-sex spouse)
    • a parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
    • a child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse
    • a brother, step-brother, sister, or step-sister of the employee
    • a grandparent or step-grandparent of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
    • a grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
    • a brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law of the employee
    • a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
    • an uncle or aunt of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
    • the nephew or niece of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
    • the spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
    • Family medical leave may also be taken for a person who considers the employee to be like a family member. Employees wishing to take a family medical leave for a person in this category must provide their employer, if requested, with a completed copy of the Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation form, available from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, whether or not they are making an application for EI Compassionate Care Benefits or are required to complete the form to obtain such benefits.

    I am a foreign live-in nanny. Is there any law in Canada that protects my rights?

    Yes, there is. The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009 (EPFNA) came into force on March 22, 2010. The EPFNA applies to foreign nationals who are employed or attempting to find employment in Ontario as live-in caregivers, to employers of foreign nationals working as live-in caregivers in Ontario, to persons who act as recruiters in connection with the employment of foreign national live-in caregivers in Ontario, and to persons acting on behalf of these employers or recruiters.

    What key rights and obligations does the Act create?

    As a brief overview, the EPFNA:

    • prohibits recruiters from charging any fees to foreign live-in caregivers, either directly or indirectly.
    • prevents employers from recovering placement costs from the live-in caregiver.
    • prohibits employers and recruiters from taking a live-in caregiver’s property, including documents such as a passport or work permit.
    • prohibits a recruiter, an employer, or a person acting on their behalf from intimidating or penalizing a live-in caregiver for asking about or asserting their rights under the Act.
    • requires recruiters and, in some situations, employers to distribute information sheets to live-in caregivers setting out their rights under the EPFNA and those provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) considered to be of particular relevance.

    What do I do if I think someone has violated this Act?

    If you are covered by the EPFNA and you want to make a complaint, you can get a claim form from the Ministry of Labour website or from a Service Ontario Centre and mail or fax it to the address or fax number shown on the form. Please note the EPFNA has its own claim form distinct from that which is used for ESA claims.

    If you choose not to file a claim, but would like to leave a “tip” (provide information to the ministry about possible violation), contact us online or call 416–326–7160 or 1–800–531–5551 (Toll–free). The information provided will be considered for an appropriate response.

    Are there time limits for filing a claim?

    Yes, you can file a claim within three and one half (3.5) years from the date the violation occurred.

    Are there provisions in the Act to ensure that employees who assert their rights under the legislation are not penalized?

    Yes. A recruiter, an employer, or a person who acts on their behalf is prohibited from intimidating or penalizing a live-in caregiver because the caregiver:

    • asks any person to comply with the legislation,
    • asks about his or her rights under the legislation,
    • asserts or attempts to assert a right under the legislation, or
    • gives information to an employment standards officer, testifies or participates in a proceeding under the legislation.
    • files a complaint under the legislation.

    What is a collective agreement?

    A collective agreement is a written contract of employment covering a group of employees who are represented by a trade union. This agreement contains provisions governing the terms and conditions of employment. It also contains the rights, privileges and duties of the employer, the trade union and the employees.

    What is collective bargaining?

    Collective bargaining is a process in which a trade union and an employer negotiate a first collective agreement or the renewal of a previous collective agreement. In this process, the parties usually focus on such issues as wages, working conditions, grievance procedures and fringe benefits.

    How are negotiations for a collective agreement begun?

    If a trade union has just been certified, it will then give the employer written notice of its desire to bargain. If the employer and the union are already bound by a collective agreement, then either party may give notice to bargain within the 90 days before the agreement is due to expire, or during any other time period specifically set out in the agreement. In either case, the union and the employer must meet within 15 days from the giving of notice, unless they agree to some other time period.

    What happens if, during negotiations, the employer and the union cannot agree on the terms of a collective agreement?

    Either the employer or the union may ask the Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer. This officer will then try to help them reach an agreement.

    What is Conciliation?

    Conciliation is a process by which a trade union or an employer can ask the Ministry of Labour for help in resolving their differences so that they can reach a collective agreement. Either party may apply to the Ministry. If parties are in negotiations, conciliation is mandatory in the sense that the parties must use the government's conciliation services before they can get into a position to engage in a strike or lock-out.

    What if the employer and the union cannot reach agreement in conciliation?

    The conciliation officer informs the Minister of Labour that a collective agreement was unable to be effected. The Minister would then generally issue a notice informing the union and the employer that he or she "does not consider it advisable to appoint a conciliation board" (cl. 21(b) of the Act). This notice is known colloquially as the "no board". [Conciliation boards are exceedingly rare. They have not been appointed since the 1960s.]

    What further assistance is available to the bargaining parties after a "no board" gets issued?

    If the parties have not reached a settlement in the Conciliation stage, the Ministry offers to provide the services of a Mediator who will confer with the parties and endeavour to effect a collective agreement. Mediation is also a process by which a third party attempts to help a trade union and an employer in reaching a collective agreement. Since mediation is discretionary, the service is only used if both parties are amenable to it.

    What is a strike?

    Section 1 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 defines a strike as a cessation of work, a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding, or a slow-down or other concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output.

    What is a lock-out?

    Section 1 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 defines a lock-out as the closing of a place of employment, a suspension of work or a refusal by an employer to continue to employ a number of employees, with a view to compel or induce the employees, or to aid another employer to compel or induce that employer's employees, to refrain from exercising any rights or privileges under this Act or to agree to provisions or changes in provisions respecting terms or conditions of employment or the rights, privileges or duties of the employer, an employers' organization, the trade union, or the employees.

    When are the parties in a legal position to strike or lock-out?

    A strike or lock-out is legal beginning on the 17th day after the Minister mails the "no board" notice. For example, if the notice was mailed on August 1, the parties can legally strike or lock out on August 18. There can be some confusion about this because the Act states that the period is 14 days after the release of a notice. The notice is not deemed to have been released, however, until the second day after it was mailed. This extends the period to 16 days, and since they must be 'clear' days, it means that a strike cannot legally start until the beginning of the 17th day. (See Sections 79(2)(b) and 122(2)(a) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995). In addition to the above, parties covered by the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act (CECBA). must have negotiated an essential services agreement before a strike can be lawfully initiated.

    Do all employees covered by the Labour Relations Act, 1995 have the right to strike?

    No. Employees of hospitals and nursing homes do not have the right to strike. Instead, unresolved bargaining issues are settled by binding arbitration. They are covered by the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA). The Labour Relations Act, 1995 also gives the union and the employer the right to agree voluntarily that the matters about which they are negotiating be referred to an arbitrator or board of arbitration, who will decide, after hearing arguments from both sides, what the terms of the collective agreement will be (See Section 40 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995). Once this agreement is reached, neither the union nor the employer is allowed to change its mind and engage in a strike or a lock-out.

    What does "grievance" mean as the term is used in labour relations?

    A grievance is a written complaint alleging a contravention of the collective agreement.

    What if an employee or a trade union feels the employer is not following the terms of the collective agreement, or if there is a disagreement about the meaning of part of the collective agreement?

    In such a situation, the employee or the union may file a grievance. The grievance procedure is set out in the collective agreement itself. Normally, it involves three or four steps. At each step more senior people from both the union and the employer try to settle the grievance. The collective agreement will often provide for a time limit within which the grievance must be commenced (usually a certain number of days after the event giving rise to the grievance). If the grievance is not filed within this period, it may be dismissed. An arbitrator has the power to extend the time limit, but only if the other side's position will not be prejudiced, and if the collective agreement does not forbid such an extension (See Section 48 (16) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995).

    What if the union and the employer cannot settle a grievance?

    The grievance must then be referred to an arbitrator or board of arbitration. The method for doing this should also be set out in the collective agreement. An arbitrator performs a function similar to a judge or court by making a binding decision resolving the matters in dispute between the parties. Occasionally, collective agreements provide that the grievances be heard and decided by one person acting as a sole arbitrator. More common, however, is the appointment of a three-person arbitration board. The union and the employer each select a member, and those two members, in turn, agree on a chair (See Section 48 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995).

    Employment Ontario

    Employment Ontario is Ontario's employment and training network that can help you get the training, education, skills and experience you need to achieve your goals. Employment Ontario can connect people looking for work with employers looking for workers. You can access Employment Ontario in three ways: by telephone, online or in person. Descriptions of Employment Ontario services are available in 25 languages. Callers to Employment Ontario's toll-free Hotline will receive help in the language of their choice.

    Employment Ontario Hotline offers information and referral services in the language you choose

    • Call Toll-free (no charge): 1-800-387-5656
    • For service in a language other than English or French: After the telephone greeting please stay on the line and an information counsellor will assist you by adding a certified interpreter to the call to help us get you the information you need
    • TTY (telephone service for the deaf) 1-866-533-6339

    Employment Ontario website

    You can visit Employment Ontario in person: Employment Ontario has offices all across the province. You can use its website to find services in your area.