Si vous parlez français
What laws apply to me as a worker?

Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow. For example, there are rules about:

  • hours of work
  • minimum wage
  • vacation pay, holiday pay, and time off from work

But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And, for some jobs, only parts of the ESA apply.

You don't need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or have a work permit, to be covered by the ESA.

Federal laws

Some industries are covered by federal laws. These are laws made by the Government of Canada and they apply throughout the country.

These industries include banks, airlines, some trucking businesses, and broadcasting.

Workers in these industries are covered by the Canada Labour Code. Like the ESA, the Canada Labour Code sets out minimum standards employers must follow.

Discrimination and harassment

The laws about human rights say that employers must not discriminate against you or allow other workers to discriminate against you.

Discrimination happens when someone refuses to hire you, treats you unfairly, or fires you for a reason that goes against your human rights.

Examples include being discriminated against because of:

  • race or ethnic background
  • religion
  • age
  • disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • being pregnant or having children

The Ontario Human Rights Code applies to workers who are covered by the Employment Standards Act.

The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to workers who are covered by the Canada Labour Code.

If your employer says you're self-employed

Some employers say that their workers are self-employed and the Employment Standards Act (ESA) does not apply to them. If this is your situation, it's a good idea to get legal advice.

Even if you signed something that says you’re an "independent contractor" or in business for yourself, the rights in the ESA might still apply to you. For example, you might have the right to overtime pay

Health and safety concerns

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives workers the right to:

  • know about health and safety hazards in the workplace
  • refuse to do work that’s not safe, which is often referred to as "unsafe work"

The OHSA doesn't apply to:

  • people who are covered by the Canada Labour Code
  • domestic workers who work in their employer's home

Workplace injuries

If you have an injury or disease that is related to your job, you should apply for workers' compensation. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) decides if you're covered or not.

WSIB pays workers' compensation benefits for injuries or diseases that are related to your work.

You should report any injuries to your employer as soon as possible.

Show all
Click to expand each step for details
Next Steps: 

Find out if you're covered by the Employment Standards Act

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow. But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And in some cases, only parts of the ESA apply.

Use the Ministry of Labour's online tool called Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules to find out if your job is covered by the ESA and which parts of the ESA apply.

You can also call the Ministry's Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551, 416-326-7160, or 1-866-567-8893 (TTY).

You may need

Find out if federal laws apply to you

See if your job is covered by the Canada Labour Code.

Some examples are banks, airlines, some trucking businesses, and broadcasting.

Check out the federal government's website for information about your rights under the Canada Labour Code. Or call the federal government's Labour Program, Ontario Region at 1-800-641-4049.

Find out if the Occupational Health and Safety Act applies to you

The Occupational Health and Safety Act applies to most Ontario workplaces that are not covered by federal law.

To see if it applies to you, check out the Ministry of Labour's Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act or call the Ministry's health and safety information line at 1-877-202-0008.

Find out if workers' compensation laws apply to you

Call the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) at 1-800-387-0750 or 416-344-1000,to see if you are covered.

If your type of employment is not covered by workers' compensation, you may be able to take your employer or someone else to court to get payments for your lost wages and expenses from your injury. Get legal advice if this applies to you.

You may need

Get help to figure out which laws apply to you

You might need help if you're not sure which laws apply to you.

For example, if you signed something that says you're self-employed, you might need legal advice about what laws apply to you.

Check out your options at Where can I get help and advice about my rights as a worker?

Reviewed: 
June, 2015

CQ+ Glossary Link Block

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

We cannot respond to your question or comment without your email address. We will not share any information you provide us with anyone.

No need to provide your address but knowing your location will help us serve you better.

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.