The Employment Standards Act is the law that contains basic rules about employing people and working. Both employees and employers have rights and
responsibilities under the Act.
Does the Act cover all employees in Ontario?
Most employees are covered by the provincial legislation. However, employees working in industries that fall under Federal jurisdiction, such as, Post office, Banks, Railways, Radio stations, Airlines, Television stations etc. are not covered.
If you are member of the trade union and your contract of employment is governed by the collective agreement, you may not be covered by the Act.
If you are currently employed with the company, you may be able to file a claim with a request that your name not be disclosed. The Act protects you when you are exercising your rights under it.
If the employer and the employee enter into a written agreement that the employee will work on a public holiday, the employee would be entitled to his or her regular wages for working on a public holiday and in addition also a day off which is his or her normal working day. The employee is expected to work normal scheduled day before the public holiday and after the public holiday and if it does not happen, the employee must have a reasonable cause and if the employee does not have a reasonable cause, he or she would be entitled to premium pay for working on public holiday. These entitlements are subject to following conditions:
Where certain work not performed
1. If the employee, without reasonable cause, performs none of the work that he or she agreed to perform on the public holiday, the employee has no entitlement.
2. If the employee, with reasonable cause, performs none of the work that he or she agreed to perform on the public holiday, the employer shall give the employee a substitute day off work, public holiday pay for the public holiday.
3. If the employee performs some of the work that he or she agreed to perform on the public holiday but fails, without reasonable cause, to perform all of it, the employer shall give the employee premium pay for each hour worked on the public holiday but the employee has no other entitlement.
4. If the employee performs some of the work that he or she agreed to perform on the public holiday but fails, with reasonable cause, to perform all of the work that he or she agreed to perform on the public holiday, the employer shall give the employee wages at his or her regular rate for the hours worked on the public holiday and a substitute day off work.
Section 31 of the Act states:
If the employee receives premium pay for working on a public holiday, the hours worked shall not be taken into consideration in calculating overtime pay to which the employee may be entitled.
This section clarifies that the same hours worked can not be counted twice.
Section 32 of the Act states:
If the employment of an employee ends before a day that has been substituted for a public holiday under this part, the employer shall pay the employee public holiday pay for that day.
If you or the employer disagrees with the investigating officer’s decision, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of the officer’s decision. The Board appoints a referee to hear the appeal. It does not cost the employee to request an appeal but the employer may be required to deposit monies in trust with the Ministry of Labour if it is found to be owing. The referee decision is final and binding on both parties.
In the past, the Ministry was very aggressive in defending the rights of an employee and would send a legal counsel to represent the employee at the Board’s hearing to deal with the matter. It rarely does so now. Obviously, the employer has advantage over the employee in these circumstances. The question arises, should the employee also engage the services of a professional? It is my view, employee’s may not engage such services at the officer’s level hearing but may do so at the at the referee level hearing, particularly, if the issues are complex.
It is important that if a hearing has been scheduled, the employee must attend such a hearing to present evidence to support its position or to contest the employer’s evidence, otherwise, the officer or the referee may rely on the evidence of the employer to render a decision.
This information is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as a legal advice.
This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.