Employee Rights

All employees in Canada and Ontario are entitled to certain rights. These rights include: standardized safety and health conditions, fair compensation and working hours, equal opportunities in the workplace, and more.

The Employment Standards Act 2000 (ESA) sets guidelines that employers and employees should follow. These include rules about minimum wage and overtime work, public holidays and vacations, maternity leave and personal emergency leave, termination and severance pay.

Following the standards of the ESA is a law in Ontario. It is the right of the employee to file a claim with the Ministry of Labour if she or he believes that their employee rights, as stipulated in the ESA, have been violated. For example, an employee can file a complaint if pay for overtime work has not been received, or the right to emergency leave has not been respected. Employees in Canada can refuse to work in a workplace which they do not consider to be safe, by law.

Workers are also protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This law protects employees against discrimination based on their sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, marital status or disability. The law implies that the employers should accommodate religious needs of the employees, including dress, prayer time or religious holidays. Complaints on human rights violation are heard in a Human Rights Tribunal. If you feel that your Rights have been violated, you may call the Ontario Human Rights Commission (800-387-9080), or visit their website.

Employers in Ontario also should cover for certain payments that are known as Payroll taxes. These payments include: basic pension, employment insurance, health insurance and worker safety insurance for employees. These payments should be made monthly, and the amount paid is calculated as a percentage of the employee’s salary.

Employees who have been laid off in Ontario may be entitled to receive Employment Insurance (EI). EI is temporary financial assistance for people who have been laid off while they are looking for a new job or upgrading their skills. However, to be eligible for EI, a person needs to have accumulated 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment (number of hours depends on the regional unemployment rate) within the 52 week period prior to the claim. For more information on Employment Insurance click here.

The “My Rights At Work” section of the Settlement.org website provides detailed information on all aspects of employee rights in Ontario.