Canada: Managing The Employment Relationship In Ontario

What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?

The Employment Standards Act, 2000, sets out most of the minimum employment standards for provincially regulated workplaces in Ontario.

There are a number of other statutes affecting the employment relationship in provincially regulated workplaces in Ontario, including:

  • Accessibility Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
  • Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002
  • Apprenticeship and Certification Act, 1998
  • Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, 1993
  • Employers and Employees Act
  • Employment Insurance Act
  • Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009
  • Employment Standards Act, 2000
  • Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, 1990
  • Human Rights Code (Ontario)
  • Labour Relations Act, 1995
  • Ministry of Labour Act, 1990
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001
  • Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009
  • Ontario Labour Mobility Act, 2009
  • Pay Equity Act
  • Provincial Schools Negotiations Act, 1990
  • Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015
  • Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act, 1997
  • Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006
  • Retail Business Holidays Act
  • Rights of Labour Act
  • Smoke-Free Ontario Act
  • Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act, 1990
  • Wages Act; and
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

There are a number of other statutes affecting the employment relationship in federally regulated workplaces in Ontario, including:

  • Canada Labour Code
  • Canadian Human Rights Act
  • Employment Equity Act
  • Employment Insurance Act, and
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Who do these cover, including categories of workers?

Depending on the circumstances, independent contractors, dependent contractors, consultants, interns, employees of affiliates, employees from temporary agencies and third party employees can be considered employees or workers for some common law or statutory purposes.

The definition of "employee" and "worker" varies among the legislation. The Labour Relations Act, 1995, for instance, explicitly includes "dependent contractor" in the definition of "employee". The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines "worker" to include self-employed individuals, independent contractors and temporary workers.


Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?

A person may be classified as an independent contractor at common law, but because of economic dependence on and control by the entity for which the services are performed, legally qualify as a dependent contractor.

A person may also be classified as a dependent contractor notwithstanding that he or she conducts business through a corporation and hires others to assist in the performance of the work.

The usual distinction between a dependent contractor as compared to an independent contractor is that a dependent contractor is entitled to reasonable notice of termination of the agreement.

Different employment related legislation (ie. tax and safety) may treat dependent or independent contractors as employees or workers subject to particular legislation.


Must an employment contract be in writing?

While preferable for the protection of both parties, an employment contract need not be in writing. To be enforceable, an employment contract simply requires the requisite elements of any contract: an offer made with the intent to create legal relations, acceptance of that offer, consideration, capacity, and legality. Where a written contract of employment has been contemplated but not signed, the contractual agreement will be enforceable if the conduct of the parties shows that their clear intent was to enter into a binding contract. In many cases contracts are part oral, part written, and part implied by the common law.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

Employment contracts can be oral or written and may include express and implied terms. It is implied in every contract of employment that an employer will provide the employee with reasonable notice in the event of termination, except in the event of just cause. Other examples of implied terms are that employees will perform their duties with reasonable skill and diligence, and that they have a duty of loyalty to their employee. Usually only senior employees would owe a fiduciary duty to their employers.

Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?

Section 7(1) of the Arbitrations Act, 1991 states:

"If a party to an arbitration agreement commences a proceeding in respect of a matter to be submitted to arbitration under the agreement, the court in which the proceeding is commenced shall, on the motion of another party to the arbitration agreement, stay the proceeding."

Ontario courts have held that the language of section 7(1) of the Arbitrations Act, 1991 is mandatory and requires the court to stay a proceeding when there is an agreement to arbitrate and the dispute is properly within the mandate of the arbitrator. It is for the arbitrator to determine in the first instance whether a matter in dispute is subject to arbitration.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

Any amendment or renegotiation of the employment agreement must usually be agreed to by both parties and must be founded up new consideration. An employee can make unilateral changes to certain terms of employment if that is permitted under the contract of employment or with sufficient notice of the proposed change to the employee. Continued employment is not valid consideration for a mutually agreed variation. If a material change to an employment agreement is made unilaterally, without reasonable notice and the employee does not consent, the employee may bring an action for constructive dismissal or claim damages for breach of contract.

For a printable version of this Labour and Employment alert, click here.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.