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Employers and Recruiters of Foreign Nationals:
What You Need to Know About the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009

Introduction

The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA) covers:

  • foreign nationals who work or are seeking work in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program (foreign nationals).
  • those who work to find or attempt to find employment for foreign nationals (recruiters), and
  • those who employ foreign nationals (employers).

The EPFNA is in addition to the protections that foreign nationals have under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). For more information on these standards, please visit Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

The EPFNA is enforced by the Ministry of Labour through various methods, including responding to complaints by foreign nationals. Additional information, described below, is available to foreign nationals to ensure they are aware of their rights.

For recruiters

Fees

EPFNA prohibits recruiters from charging ANY fees to foreign nationals for ANY service, directly or indirectly. The prohibition includes, but is not restricted to, fees for:

  • finding or attempting to find employment for foreign nationals
  • assisting foreign nationals with resume writing, interview preparation or any other activity related to job placement
  • assisting foreign nationals with immigration matters

Recruiters may still charge fees to employers but they cannot make arrangements with employers whereby employers recover from foreign nationals all or part of the fees they paid to the recruiters.

A recruiter who charges fees can be ordered to return the fees to the foreign national and can be prosecuted for an offence with, for individuals, a maximum fine of $50,000 and 12-months imprisonment. Corporations may be subject to even larger fines.

Record keeping

Recruiters must record:

  • the names of the foreign nationals they place and attempt to place in employment
  • the names and addresses of employers and potential employers
  • the amount of any fee paid to the recruiter
  • the date and reason for the payment

Other protections

Recruiters are also prohibited from taking or keeping any personal property of the foreign nationals, including:

  • passports
  • work permits
  • birth certificates

Information sheets

If a recruiter has contact with a foreign national about employment, the recruiter must give the foreign national a copy of the most recent versions of these documents as soon as possible after first making contact with him or her:

  • An information sheet that sets out his or her rights under the EPFNA; and
  • An information sheet that sets out his or her rights under the ESA (which sets minimum standards in areas such as minimum wage, vacation and hours of work).

If the Director of Employment Standards has published different documents for different categories of foreign nationals, the relevant documents must be provided.

If the foreign national’s first language is not English, the recruiter must find out if the information sheet is available in that language, and if so, the recruiter must supply both the English version and the translated document. These information sheets are available online at the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals page.

No opting out and no reprisal

Recruiters cannot ask foreign nationals to opt out of their rights under the EPFNA or the ESA

Recruiters cannot threaten, intimidate or punish anyone for exercising his or her rights under these Acts.

More information

For more information on recruiter obligations under the EPFNA, contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at (416) 326-7160 (toll-free at 1-800-531-5551) or, for the hearing impaired, at TTY 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in multiple languages.

For employers

Fees and Costs

Employers are prohibited from recovering or attempting to recover from foreign nationals any costs they incurred in arranging to become an employer of the foreign national. There is one exception to this general rule: as of November 26, 2015, employers who employ foreign nationals under the federal government’s “Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program” (SAWP) can, under the EPFNA, recover the costs of air travel and of work permits if these deductions are allowed under the SAWP employment contract.

Employers also cannot recover recruitment fees or other placement costs from foreign nationals on behalf of a recruiter.

An employer who improperly recovers fees or costs can be ordered to return the amount to the foreign national and can be prosecuted for an offence with, for individuals, a maximum fine of $50,000 and 12-months imprisonment. Corporations may be subject to even larger fines.

Other protections

Employers are also prohibited from taking or keeping any personal property of the foreign nationals, including:

  • passports
  • work permits
  • birth certificates

Information sheets

If an employer does not use the services of a recruiter it must, before employment commences, supply the foreign nationals with:

  • An information sheet that sets out his or her rights under the EPFNA; and
  • An information sheet that sets out his or her rights under the ESA (which sets minimum standards in areas such as minimum wage, vacation and hours of work).

If the Director of Employment Standards has published different documents for different categories of foreign nationals, the relevant documents must be provided.

If an employer employed a foreign national on November 20, 2015, the employer must provide the relevant documents to the foreign national.

If the foreign national’s first language is not English, the recruiter must find out if the information sheet is available in that language, and if so, the recruiter must supply both the English version and the translated document. These information sheets are available online at the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals page.

No opting out and no reprisal

Employers cannot ask foreign nationals to opt out of their rights under the EPFNA or the ESA

Employers cannot threaten, intimidate or punish anyone for exercising his or her rights under these acts.

The ESA and other obligations

Employers are required to follow the ESA that sets minimum standards in areas such as:

  • minimum wage;
  • vacation; and;
  • hours of work.

To learn more about employer obligations under the ESA, visit Your Guide to the Employment Sandards Act, 2000, or contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at: 416-326-7160, 1-800-531-5551 (toll free) or 1-866-567-8893 for hearing impaired TTY. Information is available in multiple languages.

There are also obligations for employers under federal legislation. For further information please contact ServiceCanada.

To learn more about the EPFNA visit the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals page.

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help you understand some of the minimum rights and obligations established under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA). It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the ESA, EPFNA or their regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation. Although we endeavor to ensure that the information in this resource is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. The ESA provides minimum standards only. Some employees may have greater rights under an employment contract, collective agreement, the common law or other legislation. You may wish to obtain legal advice.