Student Success Centre

Know Your Rights

Workers in Canada are protected both in terms of basic employment rights as well as safe work practices. Legislation at both the federal and provincial levels offers protection for employees. Each province or territory has its own legislation. For example, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out minimum standards for Ontario work places. The Occupational Health & Safety Act sets out the legislation for safe work places across Canada. Each province and territory, as well as the federal government, has its own legislation for protecting workers against health and safety hazards in the workplace. The final area of workers’ rights in Canada is covered by human rights legislation and is designed to protect individuals from discrimination.

Employment Standards

These are minimum standards established by law that define and guarantee rights in the workplace. Areas covered include hours of work & overtime pay, minimum wage, pay, vacation time & vacation pay, public holidays, coffee & meal breaks, pregnancy leave & parental leave, personal emergency leave, family medical leave, termination notice & termination pay. Details on each of these items can be found here for both Canada and Ontario.

Workplace Health & Safety

Legislation is in place to protect workers from unhealthy and unsafe working environments and conditions.  It allows workers the right to refuse work that they feel is potentially hazardous to themselves or to coworkers. The law does require the employee report this situation to the employer or supervisor who then would be responsible for investigating. Benefits are also available for workers who are injured or become sick on the job. Details can be found here for both Canada and Ontario.  

Human Rights

Job applicants cannot be discriminated against because of race, religion, ethnic origin, skin colour, gender, age, marital status, disability, or sexual orientation. The law also protects individuals from harassment by employers or co-workers. Individuals are encouraged to speak to employers to resolve discrimination or harassment issues. If not successfully resolved, employees are encouraged to seek assistance from their union or from the provincial or federal human rights commission. Details can be found here for both Canada and Ontario.  

Seeking Help for Employment Rights Issues

Should you have questions or concerns regarding your employment rights, it is important that you know that employees cannot be punished for claiming their rights. Seek help from The Ministry of Labour as soon as possible and fill out the appropriate claims form.