Canada: Jurisdictional Summary- Ontario

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP

All references are to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, CHAPTER 41 unless noted otherwise.

HOURS OF WORK 8 hours per day max 17(1)(a)

48 hours weekly max 17(1)(b)

Ability to extend on agreement or with approval 17(3)
EATING PERIODS 30 minutes at intervals that will result in the employee working no more than five consecutive hours without an eating period: 20(1)
Upon agreement, two eating periods that together total at least 30 minutes in each consecutive five-hour period: 20(2).
REST PERIODS At least 11 consecutive hours free from performing work in each day: 18(1). But does not apply to an employee who is on call and called in during a period in which that employee would not otherwise be expected to be working: 18(2).

At least eight hours free from the performance of work between shifts, unless the total time worked on successive shifts does not exceed 13 hours or unless the employer and the employee agree otherwise: 18(3)

Weekly, the period free from work must be: 18(4)
  1. at least 24 consecutive hours in every work week; or
  2. at least 48 consecutive hours in every period of two consecutive work weeks.

Allowance for exceptional circumstances in which an employer may require an employee to work more than the maximum number of hours, or during period that is required to be free from work. Must be necessary "to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer's establishment or operations" 19

  1. To deal with an emergency.
  2. If something unforeseen occurs, to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, regardless of who delivers those services.
  3. If something unforeseen occurs, to ensure that continuous processes or seasonal operations are not interrupted.
  4. To carry out urgent repair work to the employer's plant or equipment.
OVERTIME Overtime threshold is 44 hours weekly. Employer must pay overtime at least one and one-half times regular rate for each hour in excess of threshold: 22(1)

Employee's hours of work may be averaged over separate, non-overlapping, contiguous periods of two or more consecutive weeks for the purpose of determining the employee's entitlement, if any, to overtime pay if: 22(2)
  1. the employee and employer have made an agreement with respect to averaging;
  2. the employer has received an approval from the Ministry; and
  3. the averaging period does not exceed the lesser of,

    1. the number of weeks specified in the agreement, and
    2. the number of weeks specified in the approval.

Certain type of jobs are specifically exempted from the overtime provisions by way of regulation. For example, a person whose work is supervisory or managerial in character, a taxi driver, IT professional. See O. Reg 285/01 s. 8 for full exemptions.

MINIMUM WAGE Employers required to pay minimum wage as prescribed by regulation: 23(1)

As of June 1, 2014 general minimum wage rate is $11 per hour. O. Reg 285/01 5(1). There are exceptions to general rate for:
  1. Students under 18 years of age, working less than 28 hours weekly, or during a holiday;
  2. Servers/bartenders;
  3. Hunting or fishing guides; and
  4. Homeworkers

Certain jobs are also exempt from minimum wage requirements: i.e. person employed as a student to instruct or supervise children, or a person employed as a student at a camp for children. See O. Reg 285/01 7 for full exemptions.

VACATION Employers required to provide at least two weeks of vacation after each vacation entitlement year is completed. 33(1) Employer entitled to determine timing, subject to certain restrictions: 35
HOLIDAY Public holidays include: New Year's Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, December 26: 1(1).

If a public holiday falls on a day that would ordinarily be a working day for an employee and the employee is not on vacation that day, the employer is required to give the employee the day off work and pay him or her public holiday pay for that day: 26(1). Public holiday pay is basically their regular wage (calculated as the total amount of regular wages earned and vacation pay payable to the employee in the four work weeks before the work week in which the public holiday occurred, divided by 20): 24(1)(a)

Certain operations may require an employee to work on a public holiday (i.e. hospital, hotel, tourist resort, restaurant): 28(1). In such cases, the employer is required to pay the employee regular wages and substitute another ordinary working day for the employee to take off work instead or, pay the employee public holiday pay plus premium pay for each hour worked that day: 28(2)
EQUAL PAY Employers are prohibited from paying an employee of one sex at a rate of pay less than the rate paid to an employee of the other sex if they perform substantially the same work, their performance requires the same skill/effort/responsibility and work is performed under similar working condition: 42(1)

The requirement does not apply when the difference in the rate of pay is a result of any of the following factors: 42(2)
  1. a seniority system;
  2. a merit system;
  3. a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  4. any other factor other than sex
LEAVES OF ABSENCE PREGNANCY - 17 weeks, if employed for at least 13 weeks prior to commencement: 46(1) May begin no earlier than the earlier of 17 weeks prior to due date or the day the employee gives birth: 46(2). May begin no later than the earlier of the employee's due date or the date on which she gives birth: 46(3.1). Employees required to give written notice prior to leave, and of any changes to the date for the leave: 46(4),(5) and (6)

PARENTAL - 35 weeks if employee has taken pregnancy leave, 37 weeks if taking parental leave only, so long as employee has been employed for at least 13 weeks: 48(1) and 49(1). May begin no later than 52 weeks after the birth of the child, or after the child comes into the custody, care and control of the employee for the first time: 48(2), and must be taken immediately following a pregnancy leave if applicable: 48(3). Employees are required to give written notice prior to the leave, as well as if there are any changes to the date for the leave: 48(4),(5) and (6) and 49(2),(3) and (4)

FAMILY MEDICAL - up to eight weeks to provide care or support to a spouse, parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child if a qualified health care practitioner provides a certificate stating that the individual has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or shorter: 49.1(2)(3). Employee must provide written notice to employer: 49.1(8) and (9)

ORGAN DONOR - Up to 13 weeks, if already employed for at least 13 weeks 49.2(3) and (5). Can extend if medically necessary, to a maximum of an additional 13 weeks: 49.2(6) and (7)

FAMILY CAREGIVER - (To come into effect October 29, 2014). Up to eight weeks without pay to provide care or support to a spouse, parent, step-parent, foster parent (of the employee or the employee's spouse), child, step-child or foster child (of the employee or the employee's spouse), grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild, step-grandchild (of the employee or the employee's spouse), the spouse of a child of the employee, brother or sister of the employee, a dependent relative: 49.3(2),(4) and (5). Care must relate to a serious medical condition but may include a condition that is chronic or episodic: 49.3(3) Employee required to provide written notice and, if requested, medical documentation: 49.3(6),(7) and (8). This leave is in addition to Family Medical Leave, if applicable.

CRITICALLY ILL CHILD CARE - (To come into effect October 29, 2014). Up to 37 weeks without pay, if employee has been employed for at least six months, to provide care or support to a critically ill child. Medical practitioner must provide certificate stating the child requires the care of one or more parents and setting out the period for which care is required: 49.4(2) and (3). Employee required to give notice in writing: 49.4(14),(15) and (16). This leave can be taken in addition to any entitlement to Family Medical or Family Caregiver leaves: 49.4(18)

CRIME RELATED CHILD DEATH OR DISAPPEARANCE - (To come into effect October 29, 2014). Up to 104 weeks without pay, if employed for at least six consecutive months, if a child of the employee dies and it is probably that the child died as the result of a crime: 49.5(2). Up to 52 weeks without pay, if employed for at least six consecutive months, if a child of the employee disappears and it is probable that the child disappeared as a result of a crime: 49.5(3). Does not apply in circumstances where the employee has been charged with a crime: 49.5(4). Employee must provide written notice: 49.5(14),(15) and (16). Employer entitled to evidence reasonable in the circumstances of employee's entitlement to leave: 49.5(17). The leave is in addition to any entitlement to Family Medical, Family Caregiver and Critically Ill Child Care leaves: 49.5(18).

PERSONAL EMERGENCY LEAVE - Up to 10 days without pay: 50(5), if employer regularly employs 50 or more employees: 50(1), because of 1) personal illness, injury, medical emergency 2) the death, illness, injury or medical emergency, or an urgent matter that concerns, one of the following individuals:

  • The employee's 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 grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee's spouse;
  • The spouse of a child of the employee;
  • The employee's brother or sister;
  • A relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance.

DECLARED EMERGENCY - Employees are entitled to leave without pay if they will not be performing the duties of the position because of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act: 50.1(1). Leave can extend until date emergency terminates: 50.1(6).

RESERVIST - Employee entitled to leave without pay, after six months of employment, if a reservist and not performing duties of position because: 50.2(1) and (4).

  1. the employee is deployed to a Canadian Forces operation outside Canada;
  2. the employee is deployed to a Canadian Forces operation inside Canada that is or will be providing assistance in dealing with an emergency or with its aftermath; or
  3. in other prescribed circumstances

Employee must provide written notice: 50.2(10)

TERMINATION/SEVERANCE Written notice of termination required after 3 months of employment: 54. Notice requirement is one week if employed less than a year, one week per completed year of service after that: 57. During period of notice, employers are required to maintain the employee's current conditions of employment, including wages and benefits: 60(1).

Employees entitled to severance pay where employed for five years or more, and: 64(1)
  1. the severance occurred because of a permanent discontinuance of all or part of the employer's business at an establishment and the employee is one of 50 or more employees who have their employment relationship severed within a six-month period as a result; or
  2. the employer has a payroll of $2.5 million or more.

Severance is calculated at one week per year of completed service: 65(1)

EXEMPTIONS Certain categories of employees are exempt from the provisions of the Act related to hours of work, eating periods, rest periods, overtime, minimum wage and vacation. These categories are prescribed by regulation O. Reg 285/01 s. 2, and are:
  1. duly qualified practitioners of,

    1. architecture,
    2. law,
    3. professional engineering,
    4. public accounting,
    5. surveying, or
    6. veterinary science;
  2. duly registered practitioners of,

    1. chiropody,
    2. chiropractic,
    3. dentistry,
    4. massage therapy,
    5. medicine,
    6. optometry,
    7. pharmacy,
    8. physiotherapy, or
    9. psychology;
  3. duly registered practitioners under the Drugless Practitioners Act;
  4. teachers
  5. students in training for an occupation mentioned in clause (a), (b), (c) or (d);
  6. commercial fishing employees;
  7. real estate salesperson or broker;
  8. a salesperson who is entitled to receive all or any part of his or her remuneration as commissions in respect of offers to purchase or sales that,

    1. relate to goods or services, and
    2. are normally made away from the employer's place of business.

There are special rules/exemptions for those employed as fruit, vegetable and tobacco harvesters O. Reg 285/01 sections 24-27, as well as for those employed on farms O. Reg 285/01 s. 2(2)

This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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