This is a translation of “Better employment standards for workers in Ontario” published in February 2018, produced in English by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario). Japanese Social Services is wholly responsible for the accuracy of this translation, produced with permission of CLEO.
Recent changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) aim to improve conditions for workers. This month’s On the Radar highlights some of these changes.
Workers who are covered
The ESA sets minimum standards for most workers in Ontario. But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And, for some jobs, only parts of the ESA apply.
Workers can use the Ministry of Labour’s online tool called Industries and jobs with exemptions or special rules to find out:
- if a job is covered by the ESA
- which ESA rules apply
Higher minimum wage
As of January 1, 2018, the general minimum wageis $14.00 an hour.
Other minimum wages also went up.
People who serve alcohol in a place where they usually get tips must now be paid at least $12.20an hour.
Homeworkers must be paid at least $15.40 an hour.
And for students under the age of 18, the minimum wage is usually $13.15 an hour.
The government plans to increase the general minimum wage to $15.00 an hour in January 2019.
More vacation after 5 years
The amount of vacation workers get depends on how long they’ve worked for their employer.
Workers who have worked 5 years or more for the same employer now get 3 weeks of vacation each year.
If they’ve worked less than 5 years for the employer, they get 2 weeks of vacation in a year.
Vacation pay is 6% for workers who get 3 weeks of vacation and 4% for workers who get 2 weeks of vacation.
Paid personal emergency leave for 2 days each year
The ESA calls time off for illness and other personal emergencies “personal emergency leave”. Personal emergency leave can be up to 10 days off each year.
Workers can use the leave because they need it for themselves or because of the needs of a family member.
The ESA now gives workers the right to be paid for 2 days of personal emergency leave each year. To be eligible, they must have worked for their employer for at least one week.
No doctor’s note needed
Employers can ask workers to prove that they need personal emergency leave. But they can only ask for proof that’s “reasonable in the circumstances”.
Employers can’t ask for a medical note from a doctor, registered nurse, or psychologist.
Time off because of domestic or sexual violence
Workers can now take time off as domestic or sexual violence leave.
Workers may be able to use this leave if they or their child who’s under 18, has:
- experienced domestic or sexual violence
- been threatened with domestic or sexual violence
A worker can get the domestic or sexual violence leave in the ESA only if they have worked for their employer for at least 13 weeks in a row.
A worker has the right to be paid for the first 5 daysof domestic or sexual violence leave each year.
No need to contact employer before making a claim
If an employer has not followed the ESA, a worker may be able to make a claim with the Ministry of Labour.
For example, a worker may be able to make a claim if their employer has:
- paid them less than minimum wage
- not paid what they owe for overtime
- punished them for asking the employer to respect their rights
The law no longer says that a worker has to contact their employer before making a claim with the Ministry. For some workers, having to first talk to their employer stopped them from making a complaint.
Getting legal help
This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.