Protecting Employees

If you work in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards that an employer must comply with. If the employer fails to do so, you can file a claim on line and without cost with the Ministry of Labour against the company. If you are still working for the company, you may be able to request that your name should not be disclosed. If you are covered under the Act, your employer cannot:
            .           Intimidate you
            .           Fire you
            .           Suspend you
            .           Reduce your pay
            .           Punish you in any way, or
            .           Threaten any of these actions,
Because you made enquires about your rights or asked the employer to comply with the Act.
 If you are a member of the trade union and your employment relationship is governed by the collective agreement, you may be exempted from the provisions of the Act. If there is a disagreement at the workplace, you are expected to resolve it through your union representative.
Following are some of your rights under the Act:
            .           Hours of work
            .           Minimum Wage
            .           Overtime Pay
            .           Payment of wages
            .           Public Holidays and Vacation
            .           Personal Emergency Leave
            .           Family Medical Leave
            .           Pregnancy and Parental Leave
            .           Notice of Termination
You may wish to contact the writer for additional information on all your rights under the Act.
If the employer takes any action because you asked it to comply with the Act, you should immediately file a claim with the Ministry of Labour. The officer dealing with your claim has the legislative authority to compensate you for any damage you may have suffered including ordering the employer to give you your job back if you were terminated. The officer may also decide to prosecute the employer under certain conditions. 
Following example would illustrate your right as well as what the Ministry can do for you:
Mrs. Singh was new to the country and did not know her rights at the workplace. She soon found a job in the factory. By chance she found she is being paid less than the minimum wage and asked the employer to pay her the right amount. Instead of giving her the proper wages, the employer fired her. She filed a claim with the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry investigated her claim and ordered the employer to give her job back and the lost wages. The employer was also ordered to pay the right minimum wage.
It is important that you become familiar with your rights at the workplace and if you have any doubt, you should not hesitate to contact the writer.        
There are times when you or the employer may not agree with the officer’s decision, in that case, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days. It does not cost you to request an appeal but the employer may be required keep the money in trust with the Ministry if it is found to be owing. The Ministry then distributes the money in accordance with the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
This information is only provided to guide you about your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 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.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.       

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