Employees who work or are seeking work in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program (also known as a "foreign nationals") are protected by the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (EPFNA), which has been in effect since 2015.

Employers should be mindful of EPFNA because it imposes a number of obligations on them. Here is a summary of some key ones:

  1. Employers who hire a foreign national without using a recruiter or who hired a foreign national prior to November 20, 2015 must provide that employee with two documents:  (a) EPFNA information sheet and (b) Employment Standards Act information sheet. These sheets are available here and here respectively.
  2. If an employee doesn't speak English, the employer must inquire if the above information sheets are available from the Ministry of Labour in the employee's first language. If so, the employer must also provide the employee with an additional copy in the employee's first language.
  3. Employers cannot charge a foreign national any hiring costs (such as recruiter fees), take that employee's property (e.g. passport) or have the employee agree to give up rights under EPFNA.
  4. Employers cannot take any action against foreign nationals who inquire about their EPFNA rights or ask the employer to comply with EPFNA.

Finally, recruiters should be aware that they have special obligations under EPFNA similar to those of employers.

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.