Employment Standards Act
Employment Standards Act General Guidelines
An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30 minute eating period (meal break) free from work. However, if the employer and employee agree, the eating period can be split in to two eating periods within every five consecutive hours. Together these must total at least 30 minutes. This agreement can be oral or in writing.
Meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee’s employment contract requires payment. Even if the employer pays for meal breaks, the employee must be free from work in order for the time to be considered a meal break.
- Ontario has nine public holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Victoria Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Family Day
- Canada Day
- Christmas Day (December 25th)
- Good Friday
- Labour Day
- Boxing Day (December 26th)
Most employees who qualify are entitled to take these days off work and be paid public holiday pay. Alternatively, they can agree in writing to work on the holiday and they will be paid:
- public holiday pay plus premium pay for the hours worked on the public holiday;
- their regular rate for hours worked on the holiday, plus they will receive another day off (called a “substitute” holiday) with public holiday pay. If the employee has earned a substitute day off with public holiday pay, the public holiday pay calculation is done with respect to the four work weeks before the work week in which the substitute day off falls.
Some employees may be required to work on a public holiday. While most employees are eligible for the public holiday entitlement, some employees work in jobs that are not covered by the public holiday provisions of the ESA.
The amount of public holiday pay to which an employee is entitled is all of the regular wages earned by the employee in the four work weeks before the work week
with the public holiday plus all of the vacation pay payable to the employee with respect to the four work weeks before the work week with the public holiday, divided by 20.
Regular wages does not include any overtime or premium pay payable to an employee.
While some employers give their employees a holiday on Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and the first Monday in August, or Remembrance Day, the employer is not required to do so under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
A number of expressions are commonly used to describe situations when employment is terminated. These include “let go,” “discharged,” “dismissed,” “fired” and “permanently laid off.” Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) a person’s employment is terminated if the employer:
- dismisses or stops employing an employee, including an employee who is no longer employed due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of the employer;
- “constructively” dismisses an employee and the employee resigns, in response, within a reasonable time; lays an employee off for a period that is longer than a “temporary layoff”.
In most cases, when an employer ends the employment of an employee who has been continuously employed for three months, the employer must provide the employee with either written notice of termination, termination pay or a combination (as long as the notice and the termination pay together equal the length of notice the employee is entitled to receive).
The ESA does not require an employer to give an employee a reason why his or her employment is being terminated. There are, however, some situations where an employer cannot terminate an employee’s employment even if the employer is prepared to give proper written notice or termination pay. For example, an employer can not end someone’s employment, or penalize them in any way, if any part of the reason for the termination of employment is based on the employee asking questions about the ESA or exercising a right under the ESA, such as refusing to work in excess of the daily or weekly hours of work maximums, or taking a leave of absence specified in the ESA
Overtime pay is 1½ times the employee’s regular rate of pay. (This is often called “time and a half.”)
For example, an employee who has a regular rate of $12.00 an hour will have an overtime rate of $18.00 an hour (12 x 1.5 = 18). The employee must therefore be paid at a rate of $18.00 an hour for every hour worked in excess of 44 in a week.
Occupations that may not be covered
Most employees and employers in Ontario are covered by the ESA. However, the ESA does not apply to certain individuals and persons or organizations for whom they may perform work, including:
- Employees in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as airlines, banks, the federal civil service, post offices, radio and television stations and inter-provincial railways;
- Individuals performing work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or university;
- A secondary school student who performs work under a program authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the student is enrolled;
- People who do community participation under the Ontario Works Act, 1997;
- Police officers (except for the Lie Detectors part of the ESA, which does apply);
- Inmates taking part in work or rehabilitation programs, or young offenders who perform work as part of a sentence or order of a court;
- People who hold political, judicial, religious or elected trade union offices.
Employees of the Crown are excluded from some (but not all) provisions of the ESA.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact the
Windsor Workers’ Education Centre.
328 Pelissier St. Windsor Ontario
WWEC is partially funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation