In Ontario, a nanny is considered an employee for all employment
law purposes, and the person hiring the nanny has the legal
responsibilities of an employer1. Nannies are therefore
entitled to the same basic employment rights as other Ontario
Under the Employment Standards Act
("ESA"), nannies fall into the legislated
category of "domestic worker", defined as follows:
"domestic worker" means a
person who is employed by a householder to perform services in the
household or to provide care, supervision or personal assistance to
children, senior or disabled members of the household, but does not
include a sitter who provides care, supervision or personal
assistance to children on an occasional, short-term
Domestic workers have the same employment rights whether they
work part-time or full-time, and whether they live in or out of
their employer's home. A sitter who provides occasional,
short-term care, supervision or personal assistance to children is
not considered a domestic worker. Someone employed by an agency to
work in a private home is also not considered a domestic
Householders are required to provide domestic workers with
written particulars of their employment terms, such as the regular
hours of work (including starting and finishing times), and the
hourly rate of pay.3
As domestic workers under the ESA, nannies are entitled to all
of the following:
regular payment of wages
hours of work protections
vacation with pay
pregnancy and parental leave
family medical leave
personal emergency leave
declared emergency leave
organ donor leave
termination notice and or pay in lieu of notice
equal pay for equal work
Nannies are generally entitled to Ontario's general minimum
wage. If the nanny is a student under the age of 18 who works under
28 hours a week during school or during a school holiday, he or she
is entitled to the (lower) student minimum wage.
Like all employees in Ontario, nannies whose employment is
terminated without cause are entitled to notice of termination or
pay instead. Each case must be determined on its own facts. Factors
important in the assessment of a nanny's entitlements on
termination include: the minimum notice or pay required by the
ESA; whether there is an enforceable written contract that
determines termination entitlements; and in the absence of a
written termination clause, the "common law" entitlement
to "reasonable notice" or pay instead.
The employment relationship is formed as soon as the nanny is
hired. Where there is an employment relationship, there exists an
employment "contract", whether or not there is a contract
Employers can benefit from using a written contract, specifying
the terms and conditions of the employment relationship and
limiting entitlements on termination. Employers must be very
careful, however, not to create terms that fail to meet minimum
standards under the ESA. Failure to meet minimum standards
may render the entire contract unenforceable.
Employers are required to withhold taxes as well as Canada
Pension Plan and Employment Insurance premiums from the nanny's
pay and match those contributions. To do so the employer must apply
to Revenue Canada for a Business Number and provide information
about the nanny, including his or her Social Insurance Number, full
name, and address. The Revenue Canada Payroll Calculator can assist
to figure out how much to remit monthly.
Workplace Safety & Insurance
Employers of nannies who work more than 24 hours a week are
expected to register with and pay insurance premiums to the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ("WSIB") insurance
premiums. Employers can register at www.wsib.on.ca and follow the links for online
The Live-in Caregiver Program permits nannies from abroad to
serve as domestic workers for two years with the option to apply
for permanent residence after the qualifying period.
1 Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000,
CHAPTER 41 at s. 1(1) defines "employee" as "(b) a
person who supplies services to an employer for wages. Note that
nannies are not considered "homeworkers" under (d)
because homeworkers do paid work out of their own homes for
employer as opposed to work in a private home directly for the
person who owns or rents the home. Nannies are also not independent
2 O Reg 285/01 at s. 1.
3 O Reg 285/01 at s. 19(1).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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