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Home >> Working >> Employee Rights

Employee Rights

Canadian workers are protected by provincial and federal laws that define a fair minimum hourly wage, hours of work and other working conditions. Under Canadian law, people also have the right to work in a healthy and safe environment and can refuse work they believe to be unsafe.

It's important that workers be aware of their rights and know how and when to file a complaint. The Ontario Ministry of Labour investigates claims that employers have not respected the rights of workers.

Workers are also protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code against discrimination on the basis of their sex, race, religion, age, ethnic origin, citizenship, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status or disability. Complaints are heard by a Human Rights Tribunal.

Workers who are injured on the job in Canada are entitled to apply for financial compensation. It is the job of an employer to notify the provincial Workplace Safety and Insurance Board when an injury happens in a workplace.

Employers are required to pay workers of both sexes fairly and equally for the work they perform.

Be aware of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The OHSA sets out the rights and duties of workers, supervisors, employers and others for safe and healthy workplaces.

As a worker, you have the right to:
•      Know about workplace hazards
•      Refuse unsafe work
•      Participate in addressing workplace health and safety issues
Some examples of employer duties are to:
•      Provide basic health and safety awareness training to workers and supervisors
•      Provide information, instruction and supervision to workers on how to work safely
•      Do everything reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from being hurt or getting a work-related illness
There are a series of training tools to help you learn how to work safely – several available in different languages at ontario.ca/learntoworksafe.
For more information: ontario.ca/HealthAndSafetyAtWork, email: webohs@ontario.ca, or call: Health and Safety Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-202-0008.

For More Information

What are my rights as a worker in Ontario?
The Employment Standards Act sets out rules for workers and employers about minimum wage rates, hours of work, overtime, vacations, pregnancy and parental leave, personal emergency leave, sick days, termination and severance pay.

Your Rights as a Worker
A fact sheet with information about who has rights, what those rights are, what to do if someone discriminates against a worker and how to get help. The fact sheet can be read or listened to in Arabic, Chinese, French, Somali, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu.

Labour Program — Acts and Regulations
Information on the Canada Labour Code and how it applies to employers and employees. Workplace health and safety, hours of work, vacations, minimum wage, layoff procedures, and the rights and obligations of workers, employers and union members are defined under Canadian labour laws.

Workers’ Compensation
Workers who are injured on the job or develop diseases directly related to their occupation are entitled to compensation programs. The federal government is responsible for claims that involve federal government employees (inside and outside the country), as well as claims made by merchant seamen and federal inmates.

Your Rights Under the Employment Standards Act
An information sheet provides a summary of your rights as a foreign national employed in Ontario under the Employment Standards Act. Available in Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and Vietnamese.

What is the minimum wage when I work?
An explanation of minimum wage and examples of the hourly rate certain types of workers receive in Ontario.

Minimum Wage Database
Information about minimum hourly wages in Canada. Includes an online tool to search for general wage rates in different parts of Canada from 1965 to present.

Health & Safety at Work -- Prevention Starts Here
The Health & Safety at Work - Prevention Starts Here poster. Offers an overview of worker and employer health & safety rights and responsibilities. Poster is available in multiple languages for download and printing, including Chinese (Traditional), French, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hears complaints filed under the Human Rights Code. Information, policies, forms and guides are available on this site for both parties involved in a dispute.

Young Workers
Official Ontario Ministry of Labour website for young and new workers. Includes information on labour laws, how to be safe at work, treated fairly, volunteering and the minimum legal age for work.

Government of Canada Job Bank
Overview about working in Canada. Includes links to information on government, wages, taxes, important documents, challenges, and rights as well as videos and guides. Also features a number of useful tools for researching the demand and outlook for different occupations in locations across Canada as well as listing existing job opportunities.

Employment Standards — Ontario Ministry of Labour
The Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum standards that employers and employees must follow to ensure fairness in the workplace. Includes a “Know your rights” video, which is available in English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu. Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Your Legal Rights
A large resource of general legal information for Ontarians, compiled from hundreds of organizations across Ontario. While the site itself is only available in English, materials are available in multiple languages, including French. Managed by Community Legal Education Ontario.

Ontario Ministry of Labour — Podcast Archive
A series of podcasts on employment standards and health and safety. A wide variety of topics is covered, including deductions from wages, overtime, filing an employment standards claim, heat stress, farming safety, infection prevention, etc.

Temporary foreign workers — Your rights are protected
A Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) pamphlet to inform temporary foreign workers of their rights under Canadian law. The exploitation of a foreign national may violate Canadian law and human rights. Includes information on payment, contracts, safety, changing your jobs, accommodation (housing), and human trafficking. Also available in Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Tagalog (listed under the “Working Temporarily in Canada” subcategory).

Caregiver Program
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) information on this immigration program and the three streams available under it: the Caring for Children Pathway, the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, and the Live-in Caregiver Program. Includes links to details on the requirements for eligibility, the process of applying, and next steps for each stream. The Live-in Caregiver Program stream also has a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ), including the rights of live-in caregivers under Canadian labour and employment laws.

Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules — Special Rule Tool
Ontario Ministry of Labour quick reference online tool to help employers and employees determine how the Employment Standards Act (ESA) applies to their circumstances.

Employment Standards Claim
Details on how to file an employment standards claim. Includes a "Before You Start" Guide .

Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
Sets out the rights and duties of workers, supervisors, employers and others for safe and healthy workplaces.

Learn to work safe
Training tools to help you learn how to work safely – several available in different languages.

Build ON
Prepare to work in the skilled trades in Ontario. To help you find a job, this site offers one-on-one consultations with a coach, videos and documents in English and French.

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