Employment Law in OntarioBy: Reva Katz-Ulster
It is important that both employees and employers know their rights! Below are some highlights from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, relating to employees.
In June 2014, Ontario’s minimum wage rose to $11.00 an hour. On 1 October 2015 it will rise to $11.25 an hour.
Hours of Work and Overtime
A normal work week is 40 hours. Employers must pay time and a half for overtime after 44 hours of work. Under most circumstances, an employer cannot require an employee to work more than 48 hours a week.
Many new employees do not ask about vacation when they are first hired on and are not aware of what they are entitled to. Employers must grant a minimum of two weeks of vacation every 12 months. If the worker does not take vacation time, the employer must pay an extra 4% for the two weeks.
Lay-Offs and Dismissals
Employers have a choice of giving the worker one week of notice for each year worked [up to eight years], or one week of pay for each year worked [up to eight years]. In some cases a worker may also sue for wrongful dismissal. Of note, if an employee is on contract or completing a probationary period, the employer may not have the same obligations.
While some employers may behave as if it is up to them when employees can receive a break, in fact, they cannot require their employees to work more than five consecutive hours without providing them with a 30-minute break.
Late and unpaid wages
Some employers unfairly refuse to pay workers on time. A worker can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour who can issue an Order to Pay Wages or a Compliance Order.
If an employer files for bankruptcy and a worker is owed wages, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour provides assistance in recovering this money. Unfortunately, in this instance, there is no guarantee you will be reimbursed; in this instance, Service Canada’s Wage Earner Protection Program may compensate an employee with up to $3,500.
When possible, it is important that an employer provide written and verbal warnings. An employer who has not taken any action against those behaviours may be subsequently viewed as having condoned them. If you are fired unfairly, you may be able to sue for wrongful dismissal [see Blog #3 Wrongful Dismissal – Rightful Severance].
Just cause for termination
The Ministry of Labour has stipulated the following just cause for termination when an employee had demonstrated:
- willful misconduct
- neglect of duty
When possible, it is important that an employer provide written and verbal warnings. An employer who has not taken any action against those behaviours may be subsequently viewed as having condoned them.
In many cases, workers who lose their jobs for any reason other than a flagrant violation of ethics or rules should see a lawyer before they accept the minimal severance benefits prescribed by the law.