Employment Standards Law Firm

What are Employment Standards?

Most workers in Ontario are covered by the Employment Standards Act, which sets out the rights of employees and the responsibilities of employers in most Ontario workplaces. Otherwise, workers employed in federally regulated industries such as banking, telecommunications and airlines are covered by the Canada Labour Code. Both the Employment Standards Act and the Canada Labour Code enforce minimum employment laws regarding:

  • Hours of Work
  • Eating Periods
  • Rest Periods
  • Wages and Overtime Pay
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Minimum Wage
  • Leaves of Absence (i.e. maternity leave, parental leave, critically ill child care leave, etc.)
  • Public Holidays
  • Vacation
  • Termination and Severance of Employment
  • Temporary Layoffs

Employment standards apply differently to different workers. All the above employment standards do not apply to independent contractors, some employment standards do not apply to interns (i.e. minimum wages), and most employment standards do not apply to professionals and managers (i.e. overtime). In this regard, employment standards, as minimums, are there primarily to protect the vulnerable in low wage industries.

How to make an Employment Standards Complaint

You do not need a lawyer to make an employment standards complaint about your employer. All you have to do is contact the Ontario Ministry of Labour or the Canadian Ministry of Labour and they will investigate and enforce your complaint.

Caution – Think of Speaking to an Employment Lawyer before Complaining to the Ministry of Labour

We recommend that employees only complain to the Ministry of Labour if their complaint is of little or no monetary value (i.e. 0-$10,000), and that they should contact an employment lawyer if their claim is above $10,000.

There are greater employee rights that only the courts can enforce, which many employees are not aware of. For example, we recommend that employees who have a complaint regarding termination or severance pay should always contact a lawyer before complaining to the Ministry of Labour.

With regard to termination  / severance pay, it is almost always a better idea to make a wrongful dismissal complaint with the help of a lawyer rather than complain to the Ministry of Labour. As employment standards are just a minimum set of employee protections, it is important to emphasize that employees usually have significantly more recourse to sue for money through the common law by way of the courts (i.e. a wrongful dismissal law suit) rather than make a complaint to the applicable Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Labour has a maximum amount of money it can demand from an employer. The courts, on the other hand, have no maximum. In fact, in our experience, for example, the difference between a claim for termination / severance pay at the Ministry of Labour and one at the courts for wrongful dismissal can be more than 96 weeks’ pay.

Equally important, it must be noted that employees are only allowed to use a single avenue of recourse when complaining about employment wrongs – employees cannot make a complaint to the Ministry of Labour and sue, and vice versa. Moreover, if an employee makes an employment standards complaint to the Ministry of Labour, and they don’t withdraw it in two weeks, they are forever prevented from making the same claim in court.

Dutton Employment Law is an employment standards law firm.

If your employer has breached your employment standards rights, and question whether you are owed more money than that which the Ministry of Labour can attain for you, contact a Toronto employment standards lawyer today. Our counsel is a former Ministry of Labour prosecutor who has a history of getting winning results for clients.