Employment and Work Glossary

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accommodation

Ontario's Human Rights Code says that employers must do what they can to remove barriers that discriminate against people in a way that goes against their human rights. The legal word for this is accommodation.

This could mean doing things differently for you so that you are treated equally. For example, you might need a wheelchair ramp to get inside a building. Or you might not be able to wear the same uniform as other workers because of your religion.

But an employer will not have to do something if they can prove that it will cause them undue hardship.

averaging agreement

In an averaging agreement, you agree to get overtime on the average number of overtime hours you work over 2 weeks or more, not the actual number of hours.

In most jobs, the hours you work over 44 hours a week are overtime hours. And for those hours you get paid 1 ½ times your regular wage.

To average your overtime hours over a certain number of weeks, take the total number of hours you worked in that period and divide by the number of weeks in that period.

Then subtract 44 hours from the total and multiply by the number of weeks in the period to figure out the overtime hours you'll have.

averaging agreements

In an averaging agreement, you agree to get overtime on the average number of overtime hours you work over 2 weeks or more, not the actual number of hours.

In most jobs, the hours you work over 44 hours a week are overtime hours. And for those hours you get paid 1 ½ times your regular wage.

To average your overtime hours over a certain number of weeks, take the total number of hours you worked in that period and divide by the number of weeks in that period.

Then subtract 44 hours from the total and multiply by the number of weeks in the period to figure out the overtime hours you'll have.

bargaining unit

A bargaining unit is a group of employees that is represented by a union.

collective agreement

When a workplace includes workers who belong to a union, a collective agreement sets out conditions of employment, such as wages, hours of work, and overtime pay. The collective agreement includes the process that workers need to use if the employer does not follow the agreement.

collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is the process that unionized workers and employers go through to set the conditions of employment, such as wages, hours of work, and overtime pay.

constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal happens when your employer makes a fundamental change to your work situation and you don't agree or accept it. Because of this, your work or your conditions at work change so much that it's like you've been fired.

crime

You commit a crime when you break a federal law. Federal laws apply in all Canadian provinces and territories. The main federal law is the Criminal Code. Things like theft and assault are crimes in the Criminal Code.

defendant

The defendant is the person or company being sued in court.

Designated Country of Origin

A Designated Country of Origin is a country whose citizens have fewer rights and different timelines when making refugee claims in Canada. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration decides which countries are included.

disability

In Ontario's human rights laws, the term disability includes many conditions. For example, a disability can be a physical condition, a mental condition, a learning disability, a developmental disability, or a mental illness. Disability also includes being addicted to or dependent on drugs or alcohol.

You could be born with a disability. Or, you could have a disability because you were sick or injured.

discrimination

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

garnishment

Garnishment is one option for getting money from someone if they didn't obey a court order to pay you. To do this, you have to fill out forms and follow the rules of the court that apply to this process.

You might be able to get money from:

  • someone's bank account
  • payments they get, like rent cheques from a tenant
  • their wages if they're employed
harassment

Ontario's laws say that harassment happens when someone says or does things that they know or should know will bother you. This could be because they are offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning, or not welcome.

Harassment can include sending emails, posting materials or pictures, making jokes or other comments about:

  • your race, gender identity, gender expression, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or age
  • things like the way you dress, how you talk, or your religious practices

Harassment that goes against human rights laws is a kind of discrimination. Harassment is also against the laws about workers' health and safety.

holiday pay

In most jobs, people get public holidays off with holiday pay. To figure out your holiday pay:

  • add up your regular wages, plus vacation pay that is payable to you, for the 4 work weeks before the work week with the holiday in it
  • divide that total by 20
homeworker

Under the Employment Standards Act, homeworkers are employees who do work out of their own homes for an employer. Examples of homework are sewing, stuffing envelopes, online research, answering calls for a call centre, and telemarketing.

just cause

An employer may say they have "just cause" to fire you. If they do have just cause, they don't have to give you notice of termination.

A court might decide that your employer had just cause if you did something that was serious misconduct or you failed almost completely to do your job. The court looks at all the circumstances, including how long you have worked for the employer.

mediation

In mediation, a worker and an employer meet with someone called a mediator. The mediator tries to help them find a solution that they agree on. The mediator is neutral, which means they don't take the side of the worker or the employer.

If the mediation process works, the worker and the employer make an agreement. This means they won't need to have a hearing at a court or tribunal, where a judge or adjudicator would decide for them.

mediator

In mediation, a worker and an employer meet with someone called a mediator. The mediator tries to help them find a solution that they agree on. The mediator is neutral, which means they don't take the side of the worker or the employer.

If the mediation process works, the worker and the employer make an agreement. This means they won't need to have a hearing at a court or tribunal, where a judge or adjudicator would decide for them.

misconduct

You don't get Employment Insurance (EI) benefits if you were fired because of misconduct.

Misconduct usually means doing something wrong on purpose. It's more than not being able to do the job well. Here are some examples that might be misconduct:

  • threatening or violent behaviour
  • destroying company property on purpose
  • being late or away from work without permission
  • disobeying an order from your employer

Your employer might be wrong about what the law says is misconduct. So, it's a good idea to apply for EI even if you were fired.

notice of termination

When an employer fires you or lays you off, they usually have to give you notice of termination. There are 2 ways they can do this:

  1. Your employer can tell you ahead of time. The amount of time can depend on many things, including how long you've been in the job.
  2. Instead of telling you ahead of time, your employer can let you go right away. Then they have to pay you the money you would have earned if they had told you ahead of time.
pay in lieu of notice

When an employer fires you or lays you off, they usually have to give you notice ahead of time. The amount of time can depend on many things including how long you've been in the job.

If they let you go right away, they must pay you the money you'd have earned if they had told you ahead of time. This is called pay in lieu of notice or termination pay.

permanent resident

A permanent resident is an immigrant or refugee who has been given the right to live permanently in Canada. A permanent resident is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents can be forced to leave Canada for reasons given in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

plaintiff

If you sue someone in court, you are called the plaintiff. They are called the defendant.

premium pay

When you're paid premium pay, you get 1 1/2 times your regular rate of pay. People often call this "time and a half". The rules about public holidays give some workers the right to get premium pay when they work on a holiday.

Record of Employment

The Record of Employment is a form that your employer has to fill out when you leave a job. It has information like how long you worked there, how many hours you worked, and how much money you earned. Your employer has to choose from a list of reasons why you stopped working. For example, you might have quit, got fired, been laid off, or be taking a leave of absence from work.

record suspension

A record suspension used to be called a pardon. If you have a criminal record, you may be able to apply to the Parole Board of Canada for a record suspension. If you get a record suspension, your criminal record is not erased. But it is set aside and you can say you don't have one.

There are rules about how long you have to wait to apply and what you need to show for your application to be successful.

reprisal

When your employer punishes you for trying to use your legal rights, this is called a reprisal. It's against the law for an employer to do this. An employer might punish you by:

  • suspending you, 
  • changing your work, 
  • changing your shifts or reducing your hours, or 
  • giving you a warning or threatening you.
severance pay

Severance pay is not the same as termination pay or pay in lieu of notice. The Employment Standards Act gives some people the right to severance pay when they lose their jobs.

You get severance pay only if you've worked at least 5 years for your employer and:

  • your employer pays wages of at least $2.5 million a year, or
  • at least 50 people will be losing their jobs within a 6-month period because the business is being cut back.

The basic rule is that severance pay is one week's pay for each year you've worked for your employer, up to 26 weeks.

Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to use government programs and get benefits.

T4 statement

A T4 statement is an information slip prepared by your employer with information you need to complete your annual income tax return. It lists things like wages your employer paid you, and how much they took from your pay for Employment Insurance, income tax, and Canada Pension Plan.

temporary resident

A temporary resident is someone with temporary immigration status in Canada. The temporary status will have an expiry date. Examples include status as a temporary foreign worker or as a foreign student with a study permit.

termination pay

When an employer fires you or lays you off, they usually have to give you notice ahead of time. The amount of time can depend on many things including how long you’ve been in the job.

If they let you go right away, they must pay you the money you’d have earned if they had told you ahead of time. This is called pay in lieu of notice or termination pay.

undue hardship

Ontario’s Human Rights Code says that employers must do what they can to remove barriers that discriminate against people in a way that goes against their human rights. The legal word for this is accommodation.

But an employer will not have to do something if they can prove that it will cause them undue hardship. This could be because of how much it would cost them or how it would affect health and safety of other workers. For example, it would be undue hardship if the only solution for the worker would:

  • cost so much that it would put the employer out of business
  • cause a serious risk to the health or safety of workers
union

A union is an organized group of workers that bargains with an employer to set conditions of employment, such as wages, hours of work, and overtime pay. Sometimes unions are called labour unions or trade unions.

wages

The Employment Standards Act says that wages include your regular salary, vacation pay, commissions, overtime, holiday pay, allowances for room and board, and termination pay. 

They don't include tips, employer contributions to a benefit plan, payments from a benefit plan, or expenses that an employer pays for, such as travel.

workers’ compensation

Workers' compensation benefits are payments for injuries or diseases that are related to the work you were doing. Workers' compensation is paid by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.