The Employment Standards Act, 2000, also known as the ESA, is a law that sets minimum standards for workplaces in Ontario.
If you are protected by the ESA, you have rights at work. Your employer cannot:
because you asked about or asked for your ESA rights.
If you think your employer is not following the ESA and you are not getting what you are entitled to, contact the Ministry of Labour. Unionized employees should talk to their union representative first.
Ministry staff can help you understand your rights, answer your questions and investigate your complaint. Your employer cannot punish you for talking to the Ministry of Labour about your rights.
After speaking with us, you may decide to file a claim.
Generally, you are required to try to contact your employer about your employment standards issue(s) before your claim will be investigated. Issues can often be resolved quickly with this approach. The following are examples of situations where employees may not be required to contact their employer:
If none of the reasons listed describe your situation and if you feel that you have a good reason not to contact your employer about your employment standards issue, you will have an opportunity to explain why as part of your claim investigation.
For more information, please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551.
The ministry has also created tools to make contacting your employer easier. These tools can be found in the Before You Start booklet.
To help you fill out the Claim Form, you may need to refer to important documents about your employment history and your employer's contact information. You may need to send these documents to the ministry if your claim is being investigated.
The Claim Form asks you to give a lot of detailed information. It may take you an hour or more to complete it.
The basic information we need from you will be marked by an asterisk (*).The Ministry of Labour may contact you if you are missing required information.
Once we have all the information we need to investigate your claim, we will contact you with your claim number and your claim will move forward for investigation.
Individuals can file a claim submission in these ways:
Online at: Filing an Employment Standards Claim. You will recieve your claim submission number immediately.
By Fax at: 1-888-252-4684.
In person at: select ServiceOntario Centres (call 1-800-267-8097 to find a location near you that accepts employment standards claims).
By mail to:
Provincial Claims Centre
Ministry of Labour
70 Foster Drive, Suite 410
Roberta Bondar Place
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 6VA
Note: If you file your claim submission by fax, in person, or by mail, you will receive a letter in the mail with your claim number once all of your required information has been verified. If your claim submission is missing required information, you will receive a letter in the mail with your claim submission number, and a request to provide more information.
A claim submission number is assigned as soon as the ministry receives and registers your Claim Form. You will be provided with a claim number and your claim will be assigned for investigation once the ministry has verified that all required information has been completed.
Once a claim is filed, ministry staff can attempt to resolve the issue between you and your employer. If the issue cannot be resolved, an investigation may begin. Claims are investigated as quickly as possible. The time it takes to complete the process varies.
You can also get a hardcopy of the Claim Form through ServiceOntario Publications or in person at select ServiceOntario Centres.
In completing the Claim Form, you must give details about:
In addition, you will be asked to give information about the employer, such as:
Once your claim has been reviewed, and all required information has been provided, an employment standards officer will be assigned to investigate your claim.
During the investigation of a claim, you will be asked to provide some or all of the following:
If the employment standards officer finds that your employer has not violated your rights, the officer will tell you. If you do not agree with the decision, you have 30 days to apply to have it reviewed.
If the employment standards officer finds that your employer broke the law, the officer can order your employer to:
Employers can also be prosecuted for contravening the ESA. If convicted, your employer may be fined and/or sent to jail.
With two exceptions, an employment standards officer can only issue an order for unpaid wages that came due prior to February 20, 2015 if a claim was filed within six months of the date those wages came due. If there are repeat contraventions (i.e. where the employer violated the same section of the ESA more than once with respect to the employee and at least one of the violations occurred in the six-month period before the claim was filed) or the employee is claiming unpaid vacation pay, the officer can issue an order for wages if those wages came due in the 12 month period prior to the date the claim was filed.
An employment standards officer can issue an order for all unpaid wages, including vacation pay that came due on or after February 20, 2015 if the claim was filed within two years of the date the wages came due.
The above-mentioned limitations on recovery apply only to an employment standards officer’s ability to issue an order for unpaid wages, including vacation pay, termination pay and severance pay. When an employer has violated a non-monetary standard, such as the limits on hours of work or reprised against an employee or violated the leave provisions in the ESA an employment standards officer is able to issue certain orders (compliance orders, orders for compensation and reinstatement orders) for up to two years after a violation has occurred.
For more information, see the Filing an Employment Standards Claim chapter in Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
Call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160, 1-800-531-5551 (toll-free), or 1-866-567-8893 for Hearing Impaired TTY. Service is available in multiple languages.
Visit the Employment Standards section of the Ministry of Labour website, to access online publications that provide more detailed information on ESA rights.
This information is provided as a public service. Although we endeavour to ensure that the information is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Readers should, where possible, verify the information before acting on it.
ISBN: 978-1-4435-4542-6 (HTML)
ISBN: 978-1-4435-4541-9 (PRINT)
ISBN: 978-1-4435-4543-3 (PDF)