Employment Standards in Ontario

A law called the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) (opens new window) sets minimum standards for things like pay, hours and time off. Most workplaces in Ontario must follow this law and your rights are the same whether you work full-time or part-time.

Signs that your employer may not be respecting your employment rights:

  • Not getting paid on time
  • No pay stub
  • Not paid for extra hours
  • No time to eat
  • No public holiday pay
  • Unexplained deductions from your pay

To learn more, visit the Ministry of Labour's website to see more resources, tools, videos, podcasts for Employment Standards (opens new window) or Young Workers (opens new window)

Are Unpaid Internships Legal in Ontario?

An internship can be valuable if a student receives academic credit or other benefits in exchange for their unpaid labour. Generally, an internship refers to a work arrangement which involves a person working at a business, receiving or not receiving pay for that work. The fact that you are called an "intern" does not determine whether or not you are entitled to the protections of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) (opens new window), including the minimum wage (opens new window).

To learn more about Ontario's rules with respect to internships visit The Ministry of Labour (opens new window)

Deductions from Wages

Some employers require you to pay for items like personal uniforms as a condition of having a job. However, deductions like these from your wages may only be made if you agree in writing to have a specified amount deducted. If a customer leaves without paying or your error costs your employer money, that amount cannot be deducted from your wages.

To learn more, watch the Ministry of Labour's video on Illegal Deductions from Wages (opens new window).

Public Holidays

There are nine public holidays in Ontario. Generally, your right is to have these days off work with public holiday pay. However, if you work in a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant, tavern, hospital or an establishment with continuous operations, you may be required to work on a public holiday.

The Ministry of Labour has six interactive online tools to help employees understand their rights and calculate entitlements. To calculate your public holiday pay entitlements, try the ministry's Public Holiday Pay Calculator (opens new window).

Minimum Wage in Ontario

Most employees are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage. There are different minimum wages for students, liquor servers and homeworkers. Visit the Ministry of Labour - Minimum Wage (opens new window) to find out the current minimum wage.

Mandatory Employment Standards Poster

Your employer is required to post the most recent version of the Ministry of Labour's "What You Should Know About the Ontario Employment Standards Act" in the workplace where it is likely that employees will see it. The poster describes important rights and responsibilities under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. A new version of the poster just came out in June 2014 and it can be downloaded from the Ontario Ministry of Labour website for free at Employment Standards Poster (opens new window).

The Employment Standards Information Centre

If you have a question or would like to speak to one of the Ministry of Labour's experts call the Employment Standards Information Centre. Service is available in multiple languages:

  • 416-326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area)
  • 1-800-531-5551 (Toll-free)
  • 1-866-567-8893 (TTY for hearing impaired)

Important Links

Your Rights @ Work
This info sheet is a great resource to inform young workers about their workplace rights. Visit Young Rights @ Work (opens new window)

Employment Standards Tools and Calculators
A direct link to the ministry's suite of interactive online tools and calculators. Visit
Employment Standards Tools (opens new window)

Employment Standards Claim Form
Employees who want the Ministry of Labour to investigate whether their rights under the Employment Standards Act have been violated must file a claim. The claim form can be found by visiting Ministry of Labour - Employment Standards Forms (opens new window)