About the Employment Standards Act

Ontario has a body of rules called the Employment Standards Act, 2000, (ESA) that tells employees what their rights are at work. This law deals with hours of work, overtime, wages, vacation, leaves of absence and many other topics. These are minimum standards that workers are entitled to when they are employed. For example:

  • the minimum wage in Ontario for most workers is $11.25 an hour;
  • workers are entitled to at least two weeks of vacation after each 12 months worked;
  • in most cases, employees are entitled to overtime pay after working 44 hours in a work week;
  • employees must work a minimum of 13 weeks for an employer to get pregnancy and/or parental leave.

What to do if you have an Employment Standards problem?

If you think that your employer is not following the Employment Standards Act, you should speak to your boss and try to work it out. If this does not work, you should contact the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry has an Employment Standards Branch to answer your questions. They will even call your employer to encourage them to settle the matter.

If your employer will not cooperate, you can file a “claim”.  A claim is a form you must complete and sign, explaining why you feel your rights have been violated.

The claim is investigated by an employment standards officer. You may be asked to attend what is called a “fact finding meeting”. At the meeting, both you and your employer explain your side. At the end of the meeting, the officer will make a decision.  The employer will be asked to voluntarily correct any Employment Standards violations. If they refuse, an Order will be made.

If you are not happy with the officer’s decision, you may ask for a review (appeal). You have 30 days to make this request. The contacts in the column to the right will help you get more information on how to make a claim or ask for a review.

How we can help

Neighbourhood Legal Services provides full representation on Employment Standard Act applications to the Ministry of Labour, and appeals to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

As long as you qualify financially, and have a chance of success, we will assist you in filing your claim.